One year after Brexit, the UK is doing better than the EU – at least in terms of Corona vaccinations. Prime Minister Johnson is also suddenly looking good – thanks to an own goal by Commission chief von der Leyen.
Brexit must not be allowed to become a success, said the leader of the conservative EPP group, M. Weber, on Britain’s exit from the EU a year ago. “If the Brexit becomes a perceived success, it is the beginning of the end of the EU,” he told Die Welt.
Now the case is here. In the Corona vaccination, Prime Minister Johnson and his Britons are doing much better than the EU Europeans. While the British had already administered 13.95 vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants at the beginning of February, Germany was far behind with only 2.77 units.
Last weekend, Johnson even made a point against EU Commission head von der Leyen.
The CDU politician is responsible for her authority threatening to ban the export of vaccines from Northern Ireland to England. The mere mention of the so-called Northern Ireland clause from the withdrawal agreement triggered a storm of protest.
“Declaration of war”
This was a declaration of war, they said in Northern Ireland. Dublin and London intervened, von der Leyen had to row back. On Friday evening at 23.45h she drew the emergency bridge; the controversial clause is now no longer mentioned.
This stopped the escalation, but the dispute has not been settled. Brussels continues to maintain export restrictions on vaccines made in the EU. In concrete terms, this means that Astrazeneca is not allowed to deliver to England via Ireland and Northern Ireland.
And if it does? Then the controversial safeguard clause might have to be activated after all. The EU would close the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and endanger the fragile peace on the island of Ireland.
Calls for withdrawal
This comes as no surprise to those familiar with the withdrawal agreement; the Northern Ireland clause has always been a sore point. What is surprising, however, is how ruthlessly von der Leyen and her commission are proceeding here.
In the UK, there are already calls for the resignation of the German EU leader, and Northern Ireland is also demanding a renegotiation of the Brexit deal. Neither will happen. Nevertheless, von der Leyen has lost – and put the EU on the defensive.
Now the EUropeans are seen as the bad guys, endangering peace in Northern Ireland and threatening vaccine supplies in the UK. And this, of all things, at a time when Brexit has become a success – at least when it comes to vaccination…
P.S. Irish EU Commissioner McGuiness has distanced herself from the actions of her own agency. The Commission made a “mistake with serious consequences”, she said, according to Politico. Meanwhile, the Liberals in the European Parliament want to summon von der Leyen. They criticise the mismanagement in the Corona crisis….