Charles Michel slammed by expert on EU vaccine rollout
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Brussels has faced ongoing criticism over its slow jab rollout. And in the latest row to erupt, a group of member states have written to the EU calling for a summit to discuss the distribution of vaccines across the bloc.
The letter was written by the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Latvia.
In a Twitter post on Saturday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he and his four fellow leaders wanted to find a “European solution”.
The letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel was published by Austrian media.
It said: “In recent days … we have discovered that … deliveries of vaccine doses by pharma companies to individual EU member states are not being implemented on an equal basis following the pro-rata population key.
“We, therefore, call on you, Charles, to hold a discussion on this important matter among leaders as soon as possible.”
An EU official confirmed Mr Michel had received the letter and a summit was already planned for March 25 and 26.
The official said: “Covid coordination will again be addressed by the 27 members during that meeting.”
But they did not specify whether that included vaccine distribution.
Mr Kurz took to Twitter on Friday to insist jabs are not being distributed evenly across the EU.
He said: “The EU heads of state and government have already agreed on a fair distribution of the vaccine in the summer of 2020.
“However, the last few weeks have shown that deliveries are currently not being made according to population keys and that this is set to intensify in the coming months.
“This approach clearly contradicts the political goal of the EU – the equal distribution of vaccine doses to all member states.
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“If the distribution were to continue in this way, it would result in significant unequal treatment – which we must prevent.
“All 450 million Europeans must be given the chance to return to normality by the summer.”
But opposition parties have accused Mr Kurz of trying to deflect blame for the slow rollout of vaccinations.
The latest row comes after Boris Johnson hit back at Brussels earlier this week over Mr Michel’s claim that the UK had imposed a ban on coronavirus vaccine exports.
The Prime Minister on Wednesday told MPs that Britain has not “blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine”.
In January, the EU sparked a huge row when it briefly moved to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to impose controls on vaccines.
But it made a U-turn after coming under heavy criticism from London, Belfast and Dublin.
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