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EU video summit: Eternal dispute over squaring the circle

Status: 26.03.2021 01:02 a.m.

At the virtual EU summit, people argued for hours about how quickly as many people as possible could get more corona vaccinations – and how they should be distributed.

From Jakob Mayr,
ARD studio Brussels

For more than five hours, the heads of state and government alone discussed the topic that still dominates Europe: the corona vaccination campaign is only slowly picking up speed. The situation remains serious, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after the video summit. But: “Finally the vaccinations are making steady progress.”

Jakob Mayr

Jakob Mayr
ARD studio Brussels

According to von der Leyens, the EU will receive three times as many vaccine doses in the next quarter as it has since the beginning of the year. So far, manufacturers have delivered around 88 million cans, and by the end of the month it should be 100 million. According to von der Leyen’s account, the pharmaceutical companies have promised 360 million doses for April to June.

That is why the head of the Commission is sticking to her promise: “If we look at the commitments for the second quarter as a whole, then that means that we are on track to achieve our goal of 70 percent of adult EU citizens by the summer want to be vaccinated. ”

Michael Grytz, ARD Brussels, on the problem of the unequal distribution of vaccines

Night magazine 12:20 a.m., March 26, 2021

Vaccine distribution as a square of the circle

However, Austria and five other countries feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to distributing vaccines within the EU. Because not all governments had taken the quantities to which they were entitled according to population from all manufacturers. Other EU states were able to buy up the remaining cans, which meant that they got comparatively more.

An early delivery of ten million cans from Biontech / Pfizer could help. However, the EU does not want to shake the basic distribution mechanism. The 27 EU ambassadors should now clarify the details, and according to the words of Chancellor Angela Merkel, they are not to be envied for their task: “That is of course a relatively complicated task as always – something like squaring the circle Politics.”

Chancellor Merkel on the discussions at the virtual EU summit

25.3.2021 10 p.m.

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted after the summit that they had worked hard to ensure that the gap within the EU in terms of vaccination coverage for the population did not widen any further.

Export controls with a sense of proportion

At the summit, EU Commission chief von der Leyen stated that, despite the shortage of vaccines in the EU, considerable quantities were exported to third countries: 77 million doses since the beginning of December. From an EU perspective, this is not a problem for manufacturers such as Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna, who keep their delivery promises to Brussels.

The British-Swedish group AstraZeneca, however, is massively behind, according to the EU, it has so far not even delivered a quarter of the promised amount. Von der Leyen emphasized after the summit: “Companies have to fulfill their contracts with the EU before they export to other regions of the world. This naturally applies to AstraZeneca.”

Von der Leyens Authority has therefore proposed tightening controls on exports of vaccines to other EU countries and easing export bans. But some EU governments fear that such measures could put vaccine supply chains at risk. The Chancellor also advocates an approach with a sense of proportion: “When it comes to Great Britain, it was rightly stated that we want to assume a win-win situation, i.e. act politically sensible, because it is sometimes a little more complicated than it is first look thinks. ”

Approaching Turkey despite criticism

The EU is unanimous in its intention to reduce tensions with Turkey – even though there has been a lot of criticism of the Turkish application for a ban against the pro-Kurdish party HDP and of Ankara’s exit from the Istanbul Convention for the Protection of Women Violence. But: “In view of the existing and sometimes deep differences of opinion, we believe that speechlessness is not an answer, but that we need contacts with Turkey at all levels.”

Specifically, the EU heads of state and government are offering Ankara negotiations on an expansion of the customs union and talks on making travel easier – provided that the Turkish government continues its efforts to de-escalate in the eastern Mediterranean. There Turkey had carried out unauthorized gas explorations in areas claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

Merkel saw the fact that US President Joe Biden was on hand at the end of the video summit as an important gesture that meant that the EU and the USA were again in closer talks. According to the Chancellor, there is a lot in common with the United States, but there is, for example, no complete agreement on China policy.

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