One of Germany’s most influential journalists has bounced a bomb against his own dam, the creaky EU, which he accuses of “screwing up” its own vaccine strategy and admitting he and his newspaper “agree” with Boris Johnson for taking Britain out of the European Union.
Writing in the Times, Bild’s Peter Tiede pulls no punches tearing into the EU over Friday’s disaster at the hands of German president Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
The EU “created the biggest confidence-destroying programme in its history. On top of this, Brussels and the governments of the EU states have managed to confirm the old prejudice of a sluggish Europe,” writes Tiede, honing in on his complacent compatriot, von der Leyen who “denies all blame. Whistling loudly in the dark and thus damaging even further any confidence in her ability to run the EU. Music to the ears of the populists.”
Twisting the knife, Tiede points to von der Leyen’s controversial record as defence minister: “As Germany’s defence minister, she had already failed miserably in the procurement of helicopters, aircraft and weapons.
“Angela Merkel ordered her away to the European Commission. Just as Europe has been doing for decades with its discarded political personnel: disposed of like nuclear waste in the final repository of Brussels.
“That is the story that Johnson has told the British again and again. He, the European populist. Now, we agree with him.”
Tiede goes onto accuse von der Leyen of “lying” to the EU’s 450 million citizens over its struggling vaccine programme, which she continues to claim is world beating, and her fight with AstraZeneca, “which was supposed to look daredevilish but was just dumb. She has disgraced Europe.”
Meanwhile, the EU itself refuses to “accept criticism” of its vaccine strategy, but admits Friday night’s decision to stick a hard border in Ireland was an error.
“We are a sort of institution that will make mistakes on the way, but when we have a sense of direction, ultimately we will get there – that’s what’s happening on the vaccine front,” said the European Commission’s chief spokesman, Eric Mamer: “We accept the criticism on the details but certainly not on the big picture.”
Mamer’s comments will strain credulity. It is well documented that the EU’s contracts with vaccine suppliers like AstraZeneca are not water tight putting European citizens at the back of the queue for life-saving Covid jabs.
His op-ed Tiede explores Germany’s revised opinion of the United Kingdom, having broadly mocked “weird Euro-populist Boris Johnson” over Brexit, which has come back to haunt the engine of the EU economy.
“Now we see it. All of us – 83 million Germans, and all of Europe – undersupplied with vaccines, left lagging behind not only the US and Canada but also Britain! Of all the people, it was Johnson who got it right: he ordered vaccines for the British in time, generously and sufficiently. In surplus!”
“Germany, of all countries…We screwed up,” he goes onto admit before warning of problems down the road for the EU’s remaining bad boys, not that the UK has left the bloc.
“We have done everything wrong and are struggling with a vaccination disaster. Germany, of all countries! Industrial power, clever nation, kings of cleanliness and order. We screwed up. We ordered too little, too late. We were too stingy, too lame. As a result, Poland and Hungary are already wondering what on earth the EU is all about.”
The tone becomes increasingly sorrowful in the face of Germany struggling to vaccinate its population before the end of the year, meaning more lives lost.
“In Germany, vaccination appointments for the elderly have had to be cancelled, if they actually got any at all. There is chaos in the land of order. We are confused. Self-doubt leads to anger: we will not have vaccinated 70 per cent of Germans before the autumn. And that is the best-case scenario.”