Angela Merkel 'stuck to EU rules' on vaccine rollout says expert
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In a scathing assessment, Filipp Piatov, head of opinion at Bild, said the vaccine strategy masterminded by the German Chancellor and European Commission President has been an “abject failure” and hailed the UK’s programme as an “incredible success”. The damning verdict comes just over a week after the leading German newspaper ran a “we envy you!” front-page directed towards Britain.
Brexit provided the opportunity for the UK to go solo and secure hundreds of millions of vaccine doses from manufactures around the world.
Meanwhile, the EU insisted on a regimented approach by only allowing the bloc to secure vaccine supply on behalf of all 27 member states – resulting in much dithering and delays.
The UK has since administered more than 20million coronavirus vaccines – inoculating more than 35 percent of UK adults.
In stark contrast, Germany has given first doses to around five percent of its population and in France just four percent.
Writing in The Times, Mr Piatov said: “Last summer Angela Merkel and Ursula von der Leyen set off to liberate the continent from Covid-19, revive the eurozone economy, boost faith in the European Union that had been shaken by Brexit and, by doing so, secure their political legacy as outstanding European leaders.
“As it turned out, the only outstanding thing about their plan was its abject failure.
“The European Commission has failed to accomplish its most -indeed only – important task in the continent’s biggest crisis since the end of the war: to secure enough vaccine for all Europeans.
“Thanks to their misconceived and mismanaged plan, Merkel and von der Leyen have left Europe without the most effective weapon against the virus, prolonging lockdowns by months and delivering a huge blow to the economies of member states and trust in the European idea.”
The UK invested hundreds of millions into vaccine research and development and last July secured an initial 90million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
The Government moved early and reached its deal three months before the bloc, which has since been met with huge supply issues.
The bloc is now only set to receive half of its 180 million doses of the jab by the summer, according to an EU official.
Mr Piatov says the achievement of the UK vaccine programme has highlighted the shortcomings in the EU and claimed Brussels’ chiefs were too focused on promoting European ideologies rather than dealing with the pandemic.
He added: “It is Britain’s incredible success that makes their failure so glaring.
“With every British jab, the European vaccine failure looks more and more like the tale of two leaders who put ideology over good politics and who were so eager to demonstrate the superiority of Brussels bureaucracy to the nation state that they forgot to do their job.
“It was not mysterious circumstances, misfortune or coincidence that led to the vaccine fiasco. It was bad political decisions.”
Mr Piatov also warned the future of the EU could be at risk, he added: “Merkel and von der Leyen were given a historic opportunity.
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“They could have saved tens of thousands of lives, millions of jobs and shown Europeans that in times of crisis, it is better to be together than alone.
“They missed their chance, with incalculable consequences for the future of the EU.”
Last week, a spokesman for the European Commission said the bloc was confident it would reach its targets despite supply issues.
The EU has set a target to offer a vaccine to 70 percent of adults across the 27 member states by the summer.
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