Despite the call to mobilization and the requests to pharmaceutical companies to receive all the agreed-upon doses in time, the 25-26 March Council confirmed that the EU continues to transmit a painful sense of helplessness and division as a whole.
The COVID-19 crisis and the vaccination campaign demonstrate the weaknesses of the European integration project. With all due respect to those who perceived this process as an end in itself and not as a mean available to Member States to expand their national power.
In this crisis we are paying for our dependence on fragile global value chains and, moreover, on the goodwill of third countries, which in times of need put their own needs before those of the peoples of the Old Continent. Exactly what happened with India’s ban on the export of 27 essential products for the health of European citizens.
Then we deluded ourselves of the goodness of negotiation strategies with Big Pharma in which we put the goal of lowering prices before the certainty of deliveries. Only to get angry when pharmaceutical companies gave priority to supplies to other countries with ideas much clearer than ours. Such as the United States, Great Britain, Israel and even Chile.
We also stopped taking risks and investing in patents and innovation just when the urgency was greatest. A clear mark of our declinist and post-historical mentality, which distinguishes us from peoples much more vital and accustomed to confrontation in the name of their own interests. Just like the Americans and the British, who wasted no time in putting resources into their respective responses to the pandemic and whose vaccination campaigns are now traveling at speeds that we Europeans can only dream of. To date, the United States has administered over a quarter of the world’s vaccines, 133 million doses out of 500, while Britain has vaccinated half of the population.
The result is that the commission led by Ursula von der Leyen is struggling dramatically to implement the vaccination plan. To improve the situation, EU governments will probably establish greater controls on the export of locally produced doses to foreign countries in the next few hours. The Council of 25-26 March has not yet authorized the Commission to proceed with the total blocking of exports on vaccines produced in the continent, but the threat remains on the table, in particular on the 29 million doses of AstraZeneca serum found in the Anagni plants.
It is a cosmetic solution that cannot overturn reality, waiting for a truly local European production. In the coming weeks we might see steps forward by individual Member States, committed to grabbing multiple vaccines, including non-Western ones.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to press EMA not to approve Russian Sputnik V, and President Biden has promised that US doses of excess vaccine will be delivered to fellow European partners from next June. The 27 heads of State and government of EU countries who listened to him by videoconference expected a clearer opening on vaccine supplies, with dates and statistics.
Washington’s plan is simple: to achieve herd immunity and then help the Europeans, so as to make the Russian (and Chinese) contribution irrelevant. While waiting for indigenous vaccines, for the umpteenth time in our history we are in the hands of the United States, which aims to determine events on our continent.