“ We have underestimated what is involved in the mass production of vaccines.” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went through the dust during a debate in the European Parliament this morning. “We were too confident. The production was much more complicated than we imagined.”
Recognition of the errors comes after almost two weeks of political reproaches in Brussels following the lagging of vaccines by AstraZeneca. The European Commission decided to check thoroughly that no vaccines from the pharmaceutical were exported to the UK. An emergency item, in order to determine what was being shipped to Northern Ireland, was also put into operation.
This led to a lot of fuss. The British were angry because the EU suddenly set a border. And elsewhere in Europe too, there was much criticism that it was precisely the European Union, which, during the Brexit negotiations, had always said that it would never want a border between the two Irish countries, that suddenly set a border. The error was fixed within a few hours, but the evil was done.
“ There have been mistakes when it comes to Ireland. I deeply regret that,” says Von der Leyen. “I promise Ireland and the rest of Europe that we will keep peace.”
The recognition of Von der Leyen came after party members had insisted on a knee-fall. The Christian Democratic Group Chairman Manfred Weber said that the EU should tell the truth and recognise that mistakes have been made.
The European Parliament also wants more money to be allocated to increase the production capacity of pharmaceutical companies. The Christian Democrats are thinking of EUR 10 billion. According to Von der Leyen, every effort must be made to increase capacity. “Only by producing more vaccines quickly can we stop the virus with all its mutations.”
Criticism came mainly from the group of the ECR (conservatives and reformers), to which the Flemish Nationalists (N-VA) and the Ja21 group are affiliated. Geert Bourgeois (N-VA), former Prime Minister of Flanders, was annoyed by the lack of information. “I have been in many parliaments, but I have never had so little answers to questions.” Derk-Jan Eppink (Ja21) was also dissatisfied. “You are politically responsible. But you dont take responsibility and blame others. Step down is my call.”
Whether Von der Leyen heard that is the question, because after acknowledging her mistakes, she quickly disappeared from the Chamber and left the debate to Commissioner Kyriakides.