Time.news – Now in EU there is also a dispute over the distribution of 10 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech which were brought forward to the second quarter with a new contract from European Commission. To block the consultation is Austria, which leads a group of six Central European countries, which claim to have been disadvantaged in the first dose allocation.
Last Saturday Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called a press conference to announce that “it has only recently discovered” that the vaccine doses obtained under EU contracts have not been distributed by population and defined the system “a bazaar”. They also joined his challenge Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Croatia. And the six countries wrote a letter to President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to raise the issue.
Today the states that have shared the letter with Austria @vonderleyen and @eucopresident Michel signed, met. We need a correction mechanism for the future in order to be able to distribute the further vaccine doses fairly. pic.twitter.com/nRDLUHVT1X
– Sebastian Kurz (@sebastiankurz) March 16, 2021
The European Commission actually clarified that the system was known, as the Austrian official who sits on the vice-presidency of the EU steering committee, which deals with the management of vaccine contracts, is well aware.
From Brussels they pointed out that the mechanism has been known for months: some countries did not subscribe to all the vaccines they were entitled to and others bought the extra doses. In particular, the media reported, several capitals, including Vienna and Sofia, have chosen to bet a lot on cheaper AstraZeneca, while Germany, France and others bought the extra doses of vaccines a mRNA more expensive rejected by the latter. Italy, on the other hand, limited itself to taking the doses it was entitled to based on the population, neither more nor less.
However, the Commission stressed that it wanted one strict proportional distribution, but European national governments have opted for a more flexible approach. “It would be up to the member states to find an agreement if they wanted to return to the proportional basis,” said the European executive in a statement. In Austria, meanwhile, the opposition accuses Kurz of waging an EU-wide struggle to distract from shortcomings of their own government on the vaccination campaign front.
In Brussels, however, last night the EU’s steering committee on vaccines failed to agree on the mechanism for the distribution of the 10 million additional Pfizer-BioNTech doses. According to some diplomats, the catch is due in part to Austria’s insistence on alleged injustice. Even if the numbers do not show: as of March 23, 17.8% of the Austrian adult population had received at least the first dose, better than the EU average of 16.9%. And better than many countries that according to Vienna should share part of their quota with her, including Germany (15.6%), Italy (15.8), France and Spain (both 16.4). The numbers in Vienna far exceed those of those who are really in trouble, such as Bulgaria, only 6.5%, and Latvia, 6.7%.
Another meeting of the steering committee will be held in the morning in an attempt to find common ground between the Austrian-led coalition of six and the rest of the EU. President Michel would like the question to be resolved there to avoid bringing the negotiations to the table EU summit scheduled for the afternoon.