EU uprising: Von der Leyen facing behind-the-scenes revolt – tide turns on vaccine farce

EU uprising: Von der Leyen facing behind-the-scenes revolt – tide turns on vaccine farce

EU: Ursula von der Leyen is ‘under pressure’ says Adler

Leaders have been wary of criticising Mrs in public so far but they are “furious” over the slow rollout of across all member states, a senior EU official told Politico. They said: “There is frustration among leaders about the slow rollout of vaccines.

“We need to talk again.”

EU ambassadors also expressed their concerns over the Commission’s vaccination strategy in a meeting on Wednesday.

Mrs von der Leyen’s head of Cabinet Bjoern Seibert was forced to defend the Commission President, albeit admitting the procurement of vaccine doses for the bloc had failed to meet expectations.

She said on Tuesday the EU had lagged rivals by three to four weeks because of a more rigorous approvals process.

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EU leaders are ‘frustrated’ with von der Leyen’s vaccine programme (Image: GETTY)

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Ursula von der Leyen has been criticised over her handling of the vaccine rollout for the EU (Image: GETTY)

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

But the EU could see 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.

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.

READ MORE: Von der Leyen faces calls to resign over UK-Ireland border issue

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EU leaders will meet at the end of February for an EU summit on coronavirus (Image: GETTY)

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.

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EU Commission President was forced to apologise over her bid to restrict vaccine supplies to Northern Ireland (Image: GETTY)

EU leaders will meet in a videoconference to discuss the matter further on February 25, European Council President Charles Michel has confirmed.

Three groups in the European Parliament on Tuesday evening grilled Mrs von der Leyen over the slow rollout and shortage of COVID-19 vaccines.

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.

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

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Coronavirus vaccines effectiveness (Image: EXPRESS)

Questions still surround the Commission’s decision – which was 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.

The Commission leader accepted responsibility for Commission acts and decisions, a person at one of Tuesday’s meetings said.

Mrs von der Leyen 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.

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Coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the world as of February 2 (Image: EXPRESS)

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.

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.

Published at Thu, 04 Feb 2021 08:27:21 +0000