It was, of course, visible from day one that something was wrong here. Do you remember? The first vaccine shipment was promised around Christmas.
What we got instead was a van appearing at the border. At first, I thought it was some kind of joke, that this “ice cream truck” had gotten lost and the familiar tune would soon begin playing. But no, the ice cream cart turned out to be the van with our first installment of a vaccine shipment procured by the Union. And ever since, the much-needed vaccine only arrives in small batches.
An ice cream truck is not what Brussels had promised. Instead, it claimed that EU member states will have access to the Covid-19 vaccine quickly and in large quantities as it becomes available worldwide. They said a united Union with its nearly 500 million inhabitants would be able to negotiate more skillfully and efficiently with pharmaceutical companies. That is why the member states had given up on their own procurement, allowing a handful of incompetent bureaucrats to take us for fools.
The clever and effective negotiating strategy of the Committee has meant that our non-member country neighbor, Serbia, is now beating the EU states hard in terms of vaccination ratios. Proportionally, our Serbian friends have already vaccinated three times as many people as the EU average. What is that if not a scandal? Of course, it is not a problem if Serbia gets over the epidemic soon. We are naturally rooting for them just as we are rooting for the British who have already left the Union or for Israel; both of them also negotiated more effectively with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The trouble is that the Union expects us to just wait for the vaccine they will get and not dare to negotiate with anyone because we have agreed to do so. We can of course negotiate with the Russians and the Chinese, but their vaccines are being discredited by the EU itself. The Hungarian opposition is campaigning against the purchase of vaccines from the East as if they were shareholders in a Western pharmaceutical factory. Human lives don’t matter to them, they just want to overthrow a government.
The trouble is that this is not merely a hazy rule of law debate, as vaccine procurement cannot be the subject to all-night pseudo-intellectual debates. This is about human lives. Thousands die in Europe every day due to delays. And before anyone thinks that the Hungarians are the contrarians again, one should take a look at the outrage among leading politicians from Bavaria to Austria, from Poland to Slovenia.
Everyone is considering bypassing EU procurement and trying to get a vaccine even if it is more expensive, as soon as possible, and from the East, if possible. All this shows the dire need to rethink the whole EU.
Since the bureaucrats in Brussels are not responsible for anything and anyone, there is no accountability. Every prime minister, every head of state, knows that it is his or her fundamental duty to do everything for the country he or she leads, not because of political gain, but because it is their job and why they were elected.
It means protecting their people by all means necessary against the virus, and if necessary, also against Brussels.