Portugal, which currently chairs the Council of the EU, has put on the table of 27 a compromise proposal to distribute the 10 million doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19, for which the Commission has obtained a delivery advanced by several months. Belgium is there, but three countries would be reluctant.
In mid-March, the Commission announced that it had reached an agreement with the firms BioNTech and Pfizer to advance to the second quarter of this year the delivery to the EU of part of the joint order which was initially due to arrive at the end of this year. year. Quickly, it appeared that this advanced delivery could serve as an adjustment variable, after the complaints of some countries, Austria in the lead, who fear falling behind other EU states, for not having booked. all their shares of all vaccines pre-ordered by the EU. Some have indeed relied more on one vaccine rather than another. However, some companies are late in their deliveries (AstraZeneca), others are not yet delivering (Johnson Johnson), which creates disparities in the pace of vaccine supply to the different Member States.
During the virtual European summit last week, the heads of state and government of the 27 gave the mission to their ambassadors to the EU to ensure a distribution of the 10 million doses of vaccine “in a spirit of solidarity “. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo then said he was discounting part of this advance for Belgium, while specifying that it should also serve to smooth out the differences in delivery rates to different countries.
Portugal now proposes to distribute 3 million of these doses between 6 countries which have so far received few vaccines: Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The other 7 million would be distributed in the usual way, in proportion to the population of the 27.
According to diplomatic sources, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia do not see this proposal favorably. But Austria’s attitude is irritating. “Looks like Chancellor Kurz has finally created the ‘bazaar’ he warned against,” said a source.
Comparatively, Austria is actually not to be pitied at the moment in terms of vaccine deliveries, said a well-informed source recently. “Austria does not actually have a problem now, it is even average (in terms of doses received, editor’s note). But, proportionally, they have bought far fewer Johnson Johnson vaccines, so Sebastian Kurz is worried that the difference will be seen in the coming months when deliveries of this vaccine begin, and that a gap will widen with Denmark and Germany. “.
In recent weeks, Belgium has repeatedly defended the principle of distribution in proportion to the population, while leaving room for a one-off adjustment if too large gaps widen.
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