European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen has claimed the EU would fall apart had it not been for the troubled vaccine programme run by her administration.
Addressing MEPs, von der Leyen played down the importance of quick delivery of jabs to the EU population, instead focusing on value for money and the benefit to smaller states of the Commission procuring hundreds of millions of vaccines for the whole bloc.
“I cannot even imagine what would have happened if just a handful of big players, big member states had rushed to it and everybody else would have been left empty-handed,” said von der Leyen.
“What would that have meant for our internal market and for the unity of Europe?”
“It would have been, I think the end of our community.”
Last week von der Leyen made a bizarre comparison between “speedboat” UK excelling in its vaccine strategy while “tanker” EU lumbered on less effectively. Her speech to MEP’s took a similar wrong-turn in trying to present the EU’s inoculation programme as a success while admitting it was error-ridden.
“The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision. And I deeply regret that. But in the end we got it right,” she told MEPs.
“We were late to authorise. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production, and perhaps we were too confident that what we ordered would actually be delivered on time.”
“We need to ask ourselves why that is the case and what lessons we can draw from this experience.”
Von der Leyen went on to insist that the EU’s notoriously slow approval process was preferable to the UK’s quick approach, even though the European Medicines Agency and the UK have approved the same major vaccines, with the EMA even approving Russia’s Sputnik jab.
Sounding rather like a campaigner against vaccines, von der Leyen said: “We’ve made a choice to not make any shortcuts, when it comes to safety or efficacy. And we fully defend that choice.”
“There is no compromise possible when it’s a matter of injecting a biologically active substance into an individual who is in good health.”
The Commission President also claimed the EU has delivered on price, but when the vaccines retail for as little £2 a jab, with some manufacturers like AstraZeneca selling at cost, price seems a lower priority than immunising the public and getting the economy back on track.
But apparently that’s the kind of twisted logic that’s keeping the EU family together.