EU vaccine rollout labelled 'ineffectual' by Robert Oulds

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Nicolas Bay, National Front general secretary, claimed the EU had been “absent in coordination” when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. The UK’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines – which saw it become one of the first nations in the world to approve and begin rolling out mass vaccination in December last year, and one of the nations with the highest vaccination rates – repeatedly infuriated the EU.

In June 2020, the UK Government signed a prospective contract to pre-order 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

A separate deal with Pfizer-BioNTech was struck for an initial 30 million doses of their vaccine.

Meanwhile, according to a Politico account of the EU’s vaccine procurement, the economic bloc floundered in bureaucracy – with the European Commission having to wait for each EU country to sign the contract before it could place an order.

In a TV debate in France, Mr Bay commented: “We have always been told that the EU is effective in times of major crises, but we had the financial crisis in 2008 and the EU was absent.

“We had in 2015 a migratory crisis that is not yet resolved where the EU has shown that it refuses to defend the external borders because it wants immigration to compensate for the demographic deficit.

“And now, we have had the health crisis for a year and a half and the EU has been absent in anticipation. It has been absent in coordination.

“We had an example with the vaccines. The British left the EU a few weeks before and look…”

The UK Government “got ahead on ordering vaccines and they’ve got [the doses in hand] to give,” Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, previously told the BMJ.

“It’s as simple as that.”

EU countries threatened to block shipments of the vaccine to the UK when AstraZeneca fulfilled its contractual obligation to Britain first.

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Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, has previously said that the early orders were a reason why deliveries to the UK were not held up in the same way as those to the European Union.

Mr Bay also claimed that “France pays much more money than it receives.

“When we pay €100 to the European Union, it gives us 60 back, and it even tells us how we should use it.”

According to the EU’s own figures, in 2018, France contributed €20.6billion (£17.5billion) to the EU budget.

This accounted to approximately 0.85 percent of the French economy.

However, just €14.8billion (£12.6billion) was spent in France by the EU, or 0.61 percent of the French economy.

This means that it receives back around 72 percent of what it puts into the EU budget.

The EU adds that it “provides funding for a range of projects and programmes.

“It applies strict rules to ensure tight control over how funds are used and that the money is spent in a transparent, accountable manner.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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