In order to compensate for the inequality in the distribution of vaccines, the EU must continue to distribute them according to the population key and the correction mechanism, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said after a meeting at the level of prime ministers in Vienna.
The meeting was attended by the person from Kurz, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and their Czech counterpart Andrej Babis. Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković participated via video link.
“It’s not about pointing the finger,” Kurz said. “There is a problem that needs to be solved.” When ordering and distributing vaccines within the EU, it was agreed that vaccination would start on 27 December 2020. Council President Charles Michel also assured Member States that each country should receive per capita vaccines at the same time.
Malta quickly reached 27% of the vaccinated population, while other countries were still under 5 years old. This uneven distribution and the accompanying gaps in vaccination coverage lead to tensions in the EU, the chancellor said. Kurz stressed once again that the Board of Directors is responsible for this. It was agreed with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel to introduce a “repair” or “correction mechanism”.
“We have always believed in European solidarity,” Boyko Borisov said. “The board of directors has introduced another procedure,” Borissov continued. He also called on states not to buy any Russian or Chinese vaccines. Borissov believes Von der Leyen and Michel did a good job, “but the unfair distribution took place at lower levels,” the Bulgarian prime minister said. In May, some countries will have “herd immunity” while others are still waiting for vaccines.
Janez Janša spoke of a “timely warning”. In June, half of the countries will have a vaccination coverage rate of 30%, while the other half will be at 60%. Slovenia is above average in terms of vaccination, however “We are not an island; “No one can live well because the virus knows no bounds.”
Janša also advocated for the publication of contracts with manufacturers. It should not be a secret. “We want to avoid a new political crisis,” he said, adding that this would be inevitable if EU countries were supplied with vaccines in such an unequal way.
“It is true that the EU was looking for common solutions, but mistakes were made and that also caused tensions,” Jansa said.
He added that the EU has already ordered an additional 24 million doses of the vaccine. This is a way to tackle inequality, rather than relying solely on redistribution within EU countries. “Only when the pandemic is over will we know who was successful,” Janša said, commenting on the success of the vaccination process in Israel.