Britain vaccinated people against Covid faster than EU countries because it is free from Brussels bureaucracy, admitted the bloc’s chief negotiator.
Michel Barnier, 70, said ideology, bureaucracy and an aversion to risk-taking caused Europe to botch its early vaccination campaign – only 24 percent of the continent’s population have received at least one vaccine, compared with 50 percent in the UK.
He said lessons should be learned from the current crisis, including whether countries should be given more powers to make decisions independently of Brussels.
But he added that it is “too early to say” which countries have coped best with the pandemic and insisted that there was little to be gained from “one-upmanship” games.
Michel Barnier admitted today that bureaucracy, ideology and an aversion to taking risks within the EU had hampered the introduction of the vaccine on the continent
Speaking to France Inter, Mr Barnier said: “I realize that there were administrative problems, bureaucracy [within the EU] .
‘There was an almost ideological distrust of public-private partnerships. We don’t know how to take risks.
‘The British took risks by funding the private sector. The Americans took risks. We don’t yet know how to do it. ‘
He added that “lessons” should be drawn from the current crisis, including whether countries could be given more powers to act independently in Brussels in the future, as independent nations are able to move faster than blocs.
However, he continued to insist that signing vaccination contracts outside the EU would have been a bad idea as it would have resulted in smaller countries being left behind.
“I don’t think that’s the EU’s philosophy,” he added.
Mr Barnier spoke for over four years of negotiations with the UK government on Brexit prior to the publication of his book – Le Grand Illusion.
He spoke at length about the upcoming elections in France and Marine Le Pen’s challenge to President Macron when she wins him in the polls.
Barnier said he would be active during the campaign season and promise to defeat Ms. Le Pen, who is allied with Nigel Farage and Matteo Salvini – the Italian party leader of Lega Nord – in an attempt to overthrow the EU.
Europe has given at least one dose of Covid vaccine to just 25 percent of its population, while the UK is 50 percent (pictured, Covid vaccines are being dispensed in France).
Ms. Le Pen openly campaigned for France to leave the EU during the 2017 elections, which she lost to Macron, but has since dropped the issue – at least in public.
When asked whether lessons could be learned from Brexit that could improve Macron’s chances, he said “less bureaucracy in Brussels” is essential and urged heads of state and government to “demonstrate the added value of the European project”.
Under pressure for these benefits, Michel replied that the EU would allow nations to maintain decision-making in Europe rather than being dictated by other superpowers in the world.
‘[The EU] is of vital importance to us if we don’t want to be dependent and want subcontractors to America or China, ”he said.
“I don’t want my children’s future to be decided in Washington or Beijing.”
When asked for his opinion on Boris Johnson, Bariner added: “He clearly has intelligence, he is very warm, warm, very pragmatic.
“I think he needs a little more time to demonstrate his qualities as a statesman, but he clearly has intelligence as a government man, although I found some of his comments as foreign minister curious.”
The UK has given at least one dose of Covid vaccine to more than half of its total population after ensuring early supply and increasing the time between first and second dose to 12 weeks, allowing first propulsion to begin at a rapid pace.
As a result of the vaccination campaign, the UK has begun easing the lockdown as pubs and restaurants are allowed to open outdoors (see picture) – while the lockdown has been tightened in Europe
As a result, Covid cases have dropped to some of the lowest levels since the pandemic began, and deaths have slowed to a trickle.
Schools, workplaces, non-essential retail stores and gyms have been allowed to reopen, while bars and restaurants can serve people outdoors.
The next round of easing is scheduled for May 19, when indoor socializing is permitted. Most actions have to be stopped by June 21st.
By comparison, Europe has stung just 25 percent of its total population after late orders, red tape and careful regulation of bumps slowed the journey.
The continent is starting to catch up and Germany and Spain are now vaccinating more people per day than the UK, albeit by a narrow margin.
As a result, the continent is facing a third wave of the virus, with lockdowns tightened in countries like Germany and France, despite easing measures in the UK.
European leaders continue to insist that they are on track to achieve herd immunity by the end of summer – at least 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.
The UK government says all adults will be offered a sting by the end of June.