EU own goal: Brussels unity crumbing as Frexit campaign erupts after ANOTHER vaccine gaffe

EU ‘in absolute panic’ over their vaccine rollout says Adler

Frexit campaigner Charles-Henri Gallois after the situation emerged, slated the bloc for its slow-moving policy. The anti-EU French politician blasted the “ineffective” Brussels bloc as Brexit Britain managed to secure the first order of the Valneva vaccine despite it being produced in France.

Mr Gallois shared a video interview with the CEO of Valneva, Franck Grimaud, who said the French vaccine will first be delivered to the United Kingdom.

The Frexit campaigner tweeted: “We say thank you to the EU.

“The Brexit UK was 3 months ahead of the slow, undemocratic and ineffective European Union.”

The European Union faces a potential 90 billion euro hit to its economy this year unless it catches up with the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in other regions, a study showed on Wednesday.

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EU governments are under fire over a slow start to vaccinations in the bloc, with critics pointing to progress made in Britain, Israel and the United States as evidence of a planning failure in Brussels and elsewhere.

To reach a goal of 70 percent immunity in adults by the summer, the EU would need a sixfold increase in the rate of vaccinations, according to the study by insurance group Allianz and credit insurer Euler Hermes, seen by Reuters ahead of publication.

At the current pace, herd immunity would not be achieved before 2022, the study said, adding that the longer it takes to vaccinate Europe’s population, the longer the economy will be hampered by restrictions and lockdowns.

“One euro that is spent on speeding up vaccinations (though infrastructure, increased vaccine production) could avert four times as many euros in losses,” it said.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday said the EU had lagged rivals by three to four weeks because of a more rigorous approvals process.

Supply problems should ease in the second quarter of 2021, but increasing production remained a challenge, she said.

On Tuesday, MEPs questioned Mrs von der Leyen for hours over the slow rollout and shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as she took responsibility for an export control plan that angered Britain and Ireland.

The COVID-19 vaccine crisis, which came to a head with the EU export controls, followed news that AstraZeneca would cut its supply of vaccines to the bloc until March by 60 percent due to production problems.

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Even with the addition of an extra 9 million doses that Mrs von der Leyen announced on Sunday, the shortfall is at least 50 precent.

Questions still surround the Commission’s decision – swiftly reversed – to invoke Article 16 of the Brexit agreement’s Northern Ireland protocol.

The move, part of the EU’s effort to boost vaccine supply for its member states, would have set up border checks on the island of Ireland.

Mrs von der Leyen accepted responsibility for Commission acts and decisions, a person at one of Tuesday’s meetings said.

The European Commission president repeated to MEPs arguments she made to newspapers as she sought to defuse criticism over the slow start to COVID-19 vaccinations and outrage over the border checks issue.

Asked by the Irish Times if she would apologise, Mrs von der Leyen said she regretted that Article 16 was in a “provisional version” of the decision, but said the EU executive had been “quick on its feet” to find another solution.

Dacian Ciolos, president of the liberal Renew Europe group, said mistakes could have grave consequences. “We have no margin for error in this process.

“Not only does the credibility of the EU and in particular the European Commission depend on it but also the health and wellbeing of our citizens,” he said in a statement.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch liberal MEP, said Mrs von der Leyen was relying on too narrow a circle of advisers.

“She’s made a couple of big fat mistakes. Article 16 was one,” she told Reuters, adding that her tendency to speak only to German media was another problem.

EU countries have so far given first doses to about 3 percent of their populations, compared with 9 percent for the United States and 14 percent for Britain, according to Our World in Data.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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