Politics

Ex-Minister Bartenstein: “The EU has saved in the wrong place”

For you, saving in the wrong place means that the EU should have ordered more vaccines?

The motto would have been not to mess, but to plop. It’s not about quantity or price, it’s about the time factor. You should have been faster. In Brussels and in Europe as a whole it would have needed someone to say: Let’s play it safe, we’ll order large quantities from all the companies in question.

Speaking of speed: the European Medicines Agency is also lagging behind when it comes to approving vaccines. Should there have been emergency approvals in Europe too, as in the USA or Great Britain?

I cannot understand why the first Astra-Zeneca vaccine was approved at the end of December and the European approval only passed on Friday, i.e. at the end of January. A month was lost there too. A month is a hell of a lot of lives. In Austria there are 50 deaths per day and in Europe around 5,000. It is known among insiders that the European Commission did not want an emergency license and has therefore requested data. The EU was just too sensitive about liability.

What’s the difference?

Emergency approval requires a completely different liability regime with significantly more liability elements at the level of the European Commission and lower liability for the manufacturer. In my opinion, this aspect is completely under-highlighted in public. Great Britain and the USA are not developing countries, where you want to vaccinate lightly and harm your own citizens. Every day counts when 5,000 people die every day in the EU. At the end of the day, someone will have to take political responsibility for this.

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