Supported by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, the EU Commission (its administrative arm) took over the negotiations with vaccine manufacturers on behalf of all EU member-states last June. This was designed both as a declaration of EU “solidarity” and because of the belief that bargaining on behalf of the whole bloc could secure the vaccine at a cheaper price, a calculation that appeared to take little account of the economic costs of any delays, and delay was what — for a variety of reasons — Brussels delivered.
The U.K. came to its deal with AstraZeneca (the manufacturer of the Oxford vaccine) three months earlier than the EU, and its contract came with sharper teeth. The EU also took four months longer than the U.K. and U.S. to sign up with Pfizer.
Making matters worse, the EU’s FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), a body by definition particularly receptive to the precautionary principle that plays such a dominant role in EU policy-making (except when it comes to setting up a new currency), took its time to approve the first vaccines. Its first approval came some weeks after the U.K. and ten days or so after the U.S.
Author(s): Editorial Board
Publication Date: 25 March 2021
Publication Site: National Review