Not only bureaucracy, vaccination distribution in Europe undermined by national selfishness

Not only bureaucracy, vaccination distribution in Europe undermined by national selfishness

Not only bureaucracy

Austria, Czechia and Slovenia blow up the agreement on the redistribution of a few million doses to the worst-off countries. New shares of sovereignty must also be given up in the area of ​​health: perhaps the Union is not working as it should, but it is the governments that are not making it work

Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have consumed their miserable revenge. By voting against the redistribution of a small part of the ten million doses advanced by Pfizer-Biontech to the countries that more than others had bet on the AstraZeneca vaccine and which are now in difficulty. These are the Baltics Estonia and Latvia, Slovakia, Croatia and Bulgaria. The EU had managed, among the various multi-stage agreements signed with the US company, to anticipate a limited but still significant load of supplies from the third to the second quarter of the year. The Portuguese presidency of the EU Council had thus proposed to separate from that load a small slice of doses to be urgently addressed to those five countries.

fotp iPa On such a secondary point, given the increase in deliveries already scheduled in the next few days, the governments - represented by the EU ambassadors - have not found unanimity. The small branch led by the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who already in recent weeks had signed an agreement with Israel for the production of vaccines, has in fact (once again) broken a basic solidarity. Now the remaining 24 countries will do it alone, calculating those 2.8 million doses not out of a total of 10 million but subtracting the complete supplies destined for Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, which did not want to give up even a vial. In particular, 19 governments will give up part of their quota in the form of bilateral agreements. As could happen with any other non-EU country.

Image of "bob" ( - CC) All when Austria and the Czech Republic recently received 100,000 more doses each (in the first case to stem the South African variant in Tyrol, in particular to the district of Schwaz). Solidarity, of course, is valid only when it is its beneficiaries. The question is in fact more complex: the three governments wanted to be included among the beneficiary countries of that anticipated stock, they did not obtain this result because by the end of June they should still be able to stay above 50% of the vaccination rate and therefore have blocked a minimum redistribution, with numbers of this type (just to give an idea): in addition to the pro-rata doses, Bulgaria will receive 1.1 million more doses, Croatia about 680 thousand, Slovakia 600 thousand, Latvia 376 thousand and Estonia 41 thousand. Certainly not a particularly significant supply for the fate of the Old Continent but very useful for balancing, at least within the EU, the imbalances that are already being created. And arrive at the beginning of the summer in conditions that are as uniform as possible.

To all this we must add the solitary escapes of countries such as Hungary, where even seven vaccines are available and formally authorized, or Slovakia (where the ordering of two million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has even triggered a government crisis, with the resignation of Prime Minister Igor Matovic). Or the short circuits for which even the Czech Republic, burying the decision by consensus, has trashed the mechanism concocted to compensate for the renunciation of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses: - 140 thousand doses. Good deal.

At times, in recent months, the continental management of the vaccination campaign, from the signing of contracts - still unclear and full of omissions - to the more contained passages of distribution, has given the idea of a war between the poor. While some countries traveled and still travel rapidly, reaching important population thresholds within a few weeks (United Kingdom and United States above all, let's keep the Israel laboratory out), the EU appeared (at times even blameless) slow, labyrinthine, as usual prisoner of his bureaucracy. The case of the 10 million extra doses, however small, proves it: the Union is unable to agree even on less than three million doses to be sent to those who are in worse shape, in a continuous logic of spite, very hot, bizarre and often counterproductive leaps forward like that of the autocrat Orbán.

But the EU, as we have said too many times, is us. There are institutions, of course, but in the end for the vast majority of issues the last word always rests with our governments (or their representatives) in the Council and other legislative bodies, such as Coreper, the Permanent Representatives Committee. Delays in contracts, for example, are largely the responsibility of the conditions imposed in recent months by the various countries, which, as we have seen, are continually divided even on seemingly marginal issues, in a game of alliances and betrayals. And it is that system that must obviously be overcome, giving up new shares of sovereignty also in the field of health: perhaps the Union does not work as it should, but governments are not making it work.

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