Von der Leyen says world is 'full of contradictions and conflict'The European Commission President failed "miserably" with her vaccine strategy in
Von der Leyen says world is ‘full of contradictions and conflict’
The European Commission President failed “miserably” with her vaccine strategy in a bid to gain more power and give the EU a more strategic place in the world, claimed Professor Chris Bickerton. The lecturer at Cambridge University who focuses on international relations, comparative politics and Europe, said the EU’s failure to ensure the bloc was prepared for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines was “breathtaking”.
Writing in the New York Times, he blasted: “For the EU’s supporters, the failure has been exceptional.
“Many, such as the bloc’s health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, blame AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish company whose jab has been held up by supply problems.
“But the truth is very different: The EU, from agriculture to its single currency, does not specialise in policy success.
“In fact, a certain kind of failure is baked into its institutional DNA.
“The vaccine debacle is only the most recent and devastating example.”
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Professor Bickerton argued part of the decision to centralise vaccine procurements was to ensure the Commission gained more powers.
The other reason, he claimed, was the delusion that a successful joint vaccination strategy would put the EU on a higher pedestal in the world’s eyes.
But Brussels failed at both.
He continued: “One goal, clearly, was to increase the power of EU institutions — notably the European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen.
“By centralising vaccine procurement in its hands, it sought greater control over the bloc’s health policy. Such transfers of responsibility are rarely reversed, even if the policies themselves are a failure.
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“A centralised vaccine strategy would also, leaders suggested, give meaning to an EU struggling to find its place in a challenging geopolitical environment, demonstrating the bloc’s capacity to unite.
“Yet the attempt amounted to an enormous institutional experiment conducted amid a global health crisis. It was a breathtakingly reckless gamble that didn’t come off.”
Last year, countries in Europe agreed to hand over power to the EU to negotiate the purchase of vaccines on their behalf.
The bloc sold it as a way for member states to save money on doses and prevent being forced into competition with each other.
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Coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the world as of May 18
At the time, the UK opted not to participate in the programme, much to the dismay of many Remainers like Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who wanted to stay in the European Medicines Agency.
Then Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, decided against joining the vaccine programme for concern over “costly delays”.
A Government source told The Daily Telegraph: “The terms just weren’t right for us. The EU scheme wouldn’t allow the UK to do anything more than it currently is.”
The EU started to threaten the UK’s vaccine supplies after it complained the country had unfair advantage in contracts it signed with vaccine manufacturers.
In late March, the bloc drew attention to the 10.9 million jabs it had exported to the UK since February, and said it was not aware of any vaccines having gone the other way.
The EU stopped the threats on the condition that more transparency from the UK and other countries on the number of doses they have exported be displayed, also urging AstraZeneca to deliver what it had promised.
While just 14 million doses were delivered to member states in January, 28 million in February and 60 million in March, officials said that 105 million had arrived into the hands of healthcare workers in April.
In all, the Commission hopes to secure around 125 million doses this month and 200 million in June.
This would put the bloc on track to have an annual capacity of four billion doses a year.