AstraZeneca hopes to settle EU legal dispute in coming weeks -exec

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FILE PHOTO: Vial labelled "AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" placed on displayed EU flag is seen in this illustration picture

LONDON (Reuters) -AstraZeneca hopes to settle a legal dispute with the European Union over COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in the coming weeks, a senior executive said on Thursday, potentially ending a row that has dogged the drugmaker and Brussels this year.

The company is in talks with the EU, Ruud Dobber, executive vice president of the BioPharmaceuticals business, said in a briefing.

"We're hopeful in the next few weeks we will have a settlement," he said, without giving further details.

An EU Commission spokesman told a news conference on Thursday that he had no comment on AstraZeneca's hopes for a settlement in the legal dispute. He said that legal proceedings continue.

Earlier this year Brussels filed two legal challenges against AstraZeneca centred on the shortfall in vaccine deliveries to the 27-nation bloc this year.

The drugmaker had committed to do its best to deliver 300 million doses by the end of June, but production delays led it to revise this to 100 million vaccines.

Last month an EU court ruled that AstraZeneca had not met its obligation to make a best reasonable effort to deliver the shots and ordered it to deliver 80 million doses by the end of September. The company said it exceeded the target set by the court by end-June. The court dismissed the other claims.

A second proceeding seeks interim relief, documents, and damages. A hearing for this matter is due in September.

Brussels has largely cut ties with AstraZeneca, choosing not to buy any more of its vaccines for now.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Pushkala Aripaka; Additional reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jason Neely)

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