Gunnar Beck: von der Leyen should step down over “disastrous” vaccine rollout

The European Commission President has faced fresh calls to quit following debacles over vaccines and repeated lockdowns.
Source: European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

16 Apr 2021

German MEP Gunnar Beck has told The Parliament Magazine that von der Leyen “should take full responsibility” for the EU’s much-criticised vaccine strategy which has seen most Member States falling well behind other countries, including the UK, in the vaccination programme.

Beck, an EU lawyer and lecturer at the University of London, said, “She took responsibility for the rollout and it has proved a total disaster so, yes, she should go. The UK, which has not taken part in the EU strategy, this week has eased restrictions, but some EU Member States have gone back into another lockdown.”

“Von der Leyen was a disastrous minister in Germany and has proved the same now over the vaccine strategy as President of the Commission,” he added.

In an interview he told The Parliament Magazine, “The Commission took a calculated risk last summer in ordering large quantities of vaccines from six vaccine developers, some of whom have not yet developed a vaccine. The UK took a different path and the result is that the UK infection rates and deaths are now dramatically reduced while the EU has gone the other way.”

“There are also the huge economic consequences of yet more lockdowns. If that is not a failure of policy, then what is? If that is not a reason to resign, then what is?

“The problem is that the EU can mismanage with impunity, but that is a bad habit to get into and it is time that this changed… The fact is that there has been a colossal failure here.”

“There are also the huge economic consequences of yet more lockdowns. If that is not a failure of policy, then what is? If that is not a reason to resign, then what is?

The Commission President said earlier this week that 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations had been carried out and called this “a milestone we can be proud of”. “We are also accelerating the delivery of vaccines,” she added in a message on Twitter.

“Of these vaccinations, more than a quarter are second doses, which means that more than 27 million Europeans have been fully vaccinated.”

Von der Leyen also announced that vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech will bring forward their delivery of 50 million doses of the Coronavirus vaccine for the continent to April.

These doses were initially foreseen for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2021, but now they will become available in the second quarter. This will bring the total doses delivered by the companies to 250 million in the second quarter.

A Commission source sought to defend the EU’s vaccine performance, saying, “It is normally up to the vaccine developer to transport the vaccines to the central vaccines hub of the Member State. The further distribution to other vaccination centres in the Member State is the responsibility of the latter.”

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