Macron slammed by French residents for slow EU vaccine rollout
The European Commission president claimed there was a “confrontational mindset” amid the ongoing row over supplies. In a swipe at Britain’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines, she said: “Some countries see the quest for a vaccine as a race among global powers, like the space race in the 1960s. This is an illusion. The only race is against the virus, which is spreading faster than ever before.”
In a digital speech at Warwick University, she added: “This is not a competition between Europeans, Russians, Chinese and Americans – this is too serious.”
But the Brussels chief was accused of weakening the bloc while hurling tough rhetoric at the EU’s international partners.
Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said: “Ursula von der Leyen proves again that she wants to seem strong by using tough rhetoric, but her ill-judged actions and leadership are weakening the Commission and EU globally.
“The EU is hardly a global power like the USA, but a political union with a sharply decreasing portion of the world’s population and economic output.
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“A region which is declining demographically as well as democratically in great part because of EU policies.
“After her vaccine rollout fiasco, von der Leyen should be more modest in her rhetoric and prove herself through wise actions and not bellicose language.”
Mrs von der Leyen is under increased pressure to resign over the EU’s slow roll-out of coronavirus vaccines.
Analysts at German finance giant Allianz warned in a recent report that Europe was facing a “five-week delay on the vaccination front that, if left uncorrected, could cost close to €90 billion”.
And the European Central Bank has warned the EU’s economic recovery has been “delayed” because of the sluggish scheme.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, ECB chief Christine Lagarde said: “We remain convinced that 2021 will be a recovery year.
“The economic recovery has been delayed, but not derailed. People are obviously waiting impatiently for it.”
The EU’s vaccine scheme has got off to a slow start, with only 3.6 percent of the bloc’s 450-million population receiving a dose.
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In contrast, the UK has delivered jabs at a rate of more than 17 per 100 people, and the United States is also racing ahead on almost 12.
The ECB fears the sluggish vaccine scheme and risk of mutant strains are forcing governments to maintain their economic shutdowns.
“That is what really matters for the recovery,” one insider told the FT.
Ms Lagarde also alluded to these concerns, adding: “We are not immune to unknown risks surfacing.”
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The central banker called on Brussels to “speed up” the process of green-lighting national spending plans for the EU’s €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund.
Cash from the unprecedented bailout package is not expected to dished out to the worst-hit economies and industries until later this year while eurocrats pour over individual spending strategies from EU capitals.
Ms Lagarde said: “You fight fire with fire.
“It’s better to act quickly, even if you might have to backtrack to correct things that may have gone wrong.”
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