Everybody has to draw the right conclusions and reflect critically on his own behaviour, not only the Commission

More investment in production capacity for vaccine and other crucial materials and stronger reactions on protectionism

“Everybody has to reflect critically and draw conclusions from the lessons learned in the Covid-19-pandemic, not only the European Commission.”, said Peter Liese, spokesperson of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP/Christian Democrats) on health policy ahead of a communication of the European Commission that will be published on Tuesday. “Some, especially far-left and far-right politicians tend to blame the European Commission for its actions but hide the fact that they were completely on the wrong track last year when it came to ordering the vaccines.

For example, former Polish prime minister Beata Szydło from the PiS party blamed the Commission for failing at ordering vaccines. In fact, among others, the Polish government argued against any advanced purchase agreement with BioNTech for a long time. When we look at the delivery of vaccines now, we see where we would stand in the vaccination campaign without this company that Poland did not want to cooperate with. Many left-wing politicians and some Greens1 and Social Democrats criticised the European Commission for concluding any advanced purchase agreement at all. However, it is clear that without this advanced purchase agreement, we would not be this far in the vaccination campaign,” clarified the doctor and MEP. 

Liese added: “All those responsible, mainly in the member states and in the regions, also have to admit that the containment of the virus in the second wave was not successful in most countries. During the first wave, countries like Spain and Italy were surprised by the magnitude of the wave, member states and regions could have been better prepared and avoided ten thousands of death in Europe in the second wave.”

“It is, however, also clear that the Commission did not act well enough to fight the pandemic and to supply Europe with enough vaccines in due time. The Commission was not courageous enough to push countries like Poland and others who hesitated, to buv more vaccines, especially from BioNTech/Pfizer. In addition, the European Commission reacted too late to the obvious unfairness of other states like the United States and the United Kingdom, which exercised a de-facto export ban, which made Europeans suffer from a delay in the vaccination campaign.

We all should have pushed stronger for the establishment of global production capacities. For the future, it is very important that the EU establishes an agency like the US BARDA, which is able to purchase the necessary materials, for example vaccine, without complicated procedures. The US benefited massively form this institution that has been established already in 2006 under President George W. Bush. It is very important that the respective proposal of the European Commission to establish an EU agency called HERA will be published soon and will be adopted by Parliament and Council. The answer to the shortcomings in the pandemic can under no circumstances be “Less Europe” but the European institutions must be strengthened to be better prepared and to be more able to react flexibly if a similar crisis will come in the future”, Liese concluded.


1Marc Botenga (GUE/NGL)
•    “The multinational pharmaceutical companies sell their products at a very high price and that you, in fact, you say that you negotiate but you pay exactly the price they ask for. ... That is not negotiating, that is prostrating”

Transparency of the purchase as well as the access to COVID-19 vaccinations (Plenary debate, 12 November 2020, EP Video)

Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA)
•    The vaccines are being developed with huge sums of public funds. Why should the industry and shareholders profit heavily from the pandemic?
Twitter, 01 December 2020, Google Translation