If the vaccine only adds to the problem

Brussels (AP) — European Union leaders no longer meet around a common oval summit table to mediate a well-known compromise. Instead, each of the 27 people is suspiciously monitoring other state or government chiefs through a video screen showing a mosaic of distant capitals.

This is what COVID-19 created.

The lofty hope has given way to the reality of division by encouraging new, closer blocks to face common challenges. The pandemic made Member States oppose Member States and many capitals against the EU itself. A virtual conference currently being held by the leader.

Leaders are fighting for everything to push tourism from virus passports to the conditions for pandemic assistance. Perhaps worse, some are attacking the very structure that the EU has built to deal with the pandemic. Last month, Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz blamed how vaccination purchases within the block became a “bazaar” and claimed that poor countries attacked while the rich were prosperous.

“Internal political cohesion and respect for European values ​​continue to be challenged in various parts of the coalition,” said a study a year after the pandemic was wiped out of China and swallowed Europe. Said.

Political accountability has been sought in some places.

In the Czech Republic on Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš fired his health minister. This is the third person to be fired during a pandemic in one of Europe’s most devastated countries. Last week, the Slovak government resigned from a secret deal to buy the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, forcing Giuseppe Conte to resign in Italy to deal with the economic collapse of the pandemic.

But given the death toll of 500,000 people in the pandemic, overall, political turmoil across the EU has been curtailed. At the EU level, despite admitting that there was a serious mistake, there was no serious call for the expulsion of Brock’s CEO Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

It’s clear that the EU hasn’t risen on this occasion so far — and it’s not clear if it’s possible. “The health crisis will not be immediately put to an end, not to mention the unavoidable structural economic challenges,” said the European Policy Center.

Of course, the EU and its nations have fallen victim to some events beyond their control, as did other nations around the world. There is a good argument that part of the block problem is due to delays in delivery from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. But some of the crises were clearly self-harm.

A typical complaint is that there is no unified EU health structure to tackle the pandemic, and primarily health remains a national territory. But for years, the block had a common drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency. And since last summer, the EU has decided to pool vaccine purchases and distribute them fairly to 27 countries, large and small, the rich and the poor.

However, while some non-EU countries are rushing for an emergency use authorization, the EMA, at least in part, It is almost the same as the standard licensing procedure given to new vaccines... The green light of the agency’s first vaccine came in the UK, the first country to approve a rigorously tested COVID-19 shot, about three weeks after one was OK.

Brock never caught up. For example, on Friday, the UK gave at least one dose to 46.85% of its citizens, compared to 14.18% in the EU.

The EU has also made the mistake of over-identifying vaccine security and shooting, and underestimated the difficulties associated with mass production and distribution of such delicate products. While EU negotiators focused on the liability clause of the contract, other countries were thinking about logistics, seeking speed and quantity.

And while countries like the United States blocked the border on vaccine exports, the EU took a high moral position and maintained the export stream — about the same number of doses in the first quarter of this year. It was delivered to a noisy EU member state to the extent that it left the blockade of a third country.

In addition to the failed vaccine deployment, the EU will take time to pay for funding from a € 750 billion ($ 890 billion) bailout package. It shares debt and provides grants to poor members in an unprecedented way.But fight among leaders Some clauses Due to the complex rules, it is not a fast process. To make matters worse, the German Constitutional Court could still torpedo or even delay the entire initiative.

The nature of the crisis may differ from what it was in the past, but familiar obstacles have arisen: nasty bureaucracy, unnecessary delays as legal and technical controversies obscure the big picture, and the public interest. Abuse of politicians who prioritize self-interest over.

Last week was a good example. The EMA has repeatedly advised all Member States to cooperate. This time, we will continue to use AstraZeneca jabs for all adults, even though they may be associated with very rare cases of blood clotting.

Instead, hours after the announcement, Belgium opposed the recommendation, banning AstraZeneca for citizens under the age of 55, and others issued or maintained similar restrictions.

“If government leaders don’t trust science, they lose confidence in vaccination. If we don’t rely on (EMA), all general EU approaches are destined,” EU said. Guy Verhofstadt, a key parliamentarian in the EU, said he is usually the most stubborn of the EU’s supporters.

It is worth noting that EU countries have insisted on postponing the vaccination drive in December, especially because they wanted to wait for the EMA’s decision. However, since then, many have repeatedly ignored EMA’s advice, setting more vaccine use restrictions than the authorities require.

This extreme hesitation by many countries, often in addition to seesaw advice, is characterized by unsuccessful vaccination deployments. It exacerbated the supply and trust issues facing the block.

At last month’s video summit, where only half of the EU’s contracted doses (105 million instead of 195 million) were delivered, EU countries were fighting for shots and delivery systems.

Currently, the EU is expected to be able to turn it around. We expect 360 million shots this quarter. This keeps the promise of immunizing 70% of adults in a block of 450 million inhabitants by the end of summer.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron gives hope to millions and returns to normal life by mid-May when people “regain our art embodied by our restaurants and cafes.” May be possible. ” I love it very much. “

By that time, EU leaders may meet again in person at an overnight summit.