EU says UK had chance to join ventilator procurement scheme
BRUSSELS: Britain was given a chance to participate in a European Union scheme to buy ventilators to fight the coronavirus, the EU said on Friday, after London said it had not joined because it missed the invitation in an e-mail mixup.
The EU launched a joint procurement procedure on March 17 to buy ventilators on behalf of 25 members states, in a bid to cut prices and reduce competition among EU nations seeking the machines which help coronavirus patients breathe and are in short supply.
Britain, which is entitled to participate in such schemes under an 11-month transition deal since leaving the EU in January, did not join it.
That attracted criticism at home from opponents who accused the government of prioritizing “Brexit over breathing” - so determined to act independently of the bloc that it would risk public health in the coronavirus crisis.
A British government spokesman said on Thursday London had not rejected the scheme deliberately, but had stayed out because it missed the invitation, due to an e-mail mixup. Britain would consider joining such joint procurement schemes in the future. - Reuters