Angela Merkel’s legacy on brink as leader behind botched EU vaccine scheme

Angela Merkel: Political expert discusses approval rating

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Last year, European governments shifted responsibility for vaccination procurement to the EU. This is because German Chancellor Angela Merkel reasoned that it would have strained EU cohesion if Germany had procured privileged supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was funded by Berlin. It did not take long for the move to spectacularly backfire.

With nearly 30 percent of people in the UK having received at least one dose, but vaccine distribution progressing much more slowly across most EU countries, frustration is growing.

Citizens in Germany, France and Sweden are directing blame at Brussels over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine rollouts, according to polling carried out in mid-February that also points to a drop in support for national governments and leaders.

According to the survey, which was carried out by Kekst CNC, 51 percent of German respondents said the EU has handled the vaccine rollout badly, a view shared by 35 percent of French and 24 percent of Swedish respondents.

In the UK, 45 percent said the EU has done a bad job, while 77 percent said they approved of their Government’s track record on vaccination.

By contrast, only 23 percent of Germans, 19 percent of Swedes and 18 percent of French respondents took a similarly generous view of their respective national vaccine rollouts.

As trust in the EU’s strategy continues to dwindle, according to the head of Oxford-based think-tank Euro Intelligence, Wolfgang Munchau, people will soon start pointing their fingers at Mrs Merkel.

He explained in a recent report: “So far, nobody is blaming Angela Merkel and other prime ministers personally for the rise in deaths, due to their collectively incompetent crisis management.

“The SPD politician Karl Lauterbach, who also happens to be a professor of health economics and epidemiology at Cologne University, yesterday made that link, still cautiously, but the implications are clear: a study showing that the UK mutant virus B117 resulted in a 64 percent increase in mortality means that a lot of people will die before they are due to receive a vaccine.

“In other words, these are Merkel’s deaths because it was her decision to Europeanise the vaccination procurement process.”

As the UK mutant is now spreading, German epidemiologists like Mr Lauterbach are expecting a rise in case in numbers going forward.

With only 5.7 percent of the population having received a first vaccine, Mr Munchau noted, the professor’s scenario is a clear possibility.

He concluded: “By election day in September, a majority of the population will have received a first vaccination, but the politics of this health policy disaster are likely to reverberate beyond the immediate crisis.

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“Nobody is talking about Merkel is dead yet.

“The German media try to avoid any personal criticism of the Chancellor.

“But this is not a situation they have under control.”

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, German MEP and EU lawyer Gunnar Beck claimed Britain’s success with its vaccination programme could trigger a Brexit domino effect in the near future.

He said: “We will see over the next few years how Britain does outside the EU.

“But I am optimistic.

“The early implications for the COVID-19 crisis and how the vaccination programme is being managed in the UK are positive.

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“I think this will greatly influence the behaviour of individual countries in the EU, particularly because there are some who do not like the policies pushed forward by France and Germany.”

He added: “The prime candidates for leaving the EU are Finland over the euro.

“Denmark has been rather aloof and doesn’t agree with many policies such as migration and it is not even part of the euro.

“The Netherlands is also rather discontent with the large subsidies for the eurozone.

“These are the most obvious.

“I can’t see Italy or Southern European countries leaving at least until they get their share of German money.”

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