Merkel’s and Macron’s undermining of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine may derive from their instinctive reactions to any hint that Britain’s future after Brexit might be fruitful, but they are reckless and are damaging enthusiasm for the EU.
Whilst infections, hospitalisations and deaths in the UK are plunging, in Germany the vast majority of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (OAZ) doses are sitting on fridge shelves, and in France the vaccine-shy population is even less willing to have a jab. Infections are rising in both countries and confidence in the EU is suffering due to its woeful handling of the pandemic. Commission President, von der Leyen, may be the main focus of their discontent but Franco-German leadership has also tested the patience of Eastern European countries and some have been ordering vaccines so far unapproved by the European Medicines Agency, which has approved the OAZ one. The Czech Republic, for example, is buying the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.
Chancellor Merkel has a doctorate in quantum chemistry, one would therefore expect her to have weighed the evidence carefully, or at least waited for clear evidence before obstructing a possible escape from the covid catastrophe. President Macron studied philosophy and gained his master’s degree in public affairs from France’s elite École Nationale d’Administration so perhaps he has more excuse for not “following the science” method – although isn’t that a philosophy? It is inexcusable to destroy citizens’ confidence and endanger their lives for the sake of an ideology, which they are undermining by their actions.
Thomas Kielinger was, from 1998 until recently, UK correspondent for the German daily Die Welt. This is how he describes attitudes in his native country :
“Germans are accustomed to Europe as their ersatz identity ... enjoying a club with such significant, if endangered, economic clout.“
“Nobody waxes enthusiastic about the EU any more, and the notion of ever-closer union has evaporated.“
“Germany’s Bild, Europe’s largest circulation tabloid, is growing more excited by the day on account of such breath-taking success. “We envy you British”, was their headline last week.”
“Trust is a process of delegation: individuals have to be able to base their judgment on responsible authority … but a complete lack of it kills.“