Vaccine row: European Union warned about contracts by Wallace
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The European Union’s top foreign diplomat, Josep Borrell, said the bloc was losing influence to China by not helping the Covid jabs drives in poorer and low-income countries. His intervention is a direct attack on the European Commission’s promise to help smaller economies fight the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Borrell said: “China’s expansion in Africa and Latin America should concern us and should occupy us a great deal.
“In Europe, we vaccinated 60 percent of our population in Africa, they are at two or three percent.
“Who is the big vaccine supplier to Africa? China. Who is the big vaccine supplier to Latin America? China.”
Beijing has ramped up its vaccine diplomacy in developing countries, pledging some £2.2billion in pandemic aid and claimed it had already provided 500 million jabs.
Commission President Mrs von der Leyen has only pledged to ship 200 million doses to low-income countries by the end of the year.
Mr Borrell said: “Yes, but when?
“The problem isn’t just the commitment but the effectiveness.”
He said the bloc had only distributed “around 10 million doses in Africa for a continent with 1.5 billion inhabitants”.
“It’s certainly insufficient,” the EU foreign policy chief fumed.
Mr Borrell said his boss had launched a “geopolitical Commission” in 2019 by travelling to Africa and promising close partnership and cooperation.
But he warned these promises have now been thrown into doubt.
“We’re doing a lot but this lot isn’t enough,” he said.
“An African leader recently told me: ‘You told us you would be our best partner. Well, now you have the chance to prove it.’”
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Mr Borrell pointed to a Chinese media campaign that has position Beijing as the most helpful international partner to the developing world.
It also dismisses EU and US aid efforts as negligible.
The EU’s top diplomat warned that this poses a major problem to the bloc.
He said: “Others are doing more than us, or at least people perceive that they are doing more than us.
“And that will have geopolitical consequences. Europe has to speed up… the putting into practice of our commitments.”
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Mr Borrell essentially blamed the lack of visibility of vaccine donations made by the EU, despite it’s close working relationship with the COVAX aid project.
“We’ve given a lot of money to COVAX, we’re the great funders of COVAX,” he said.
“But COVAX doesn’t appear as Europe, it’s an intermediate entity that has had enormous difficulties in supplying vaccines in the necessary amount.”
The EU Commission has deliberately tried to improve visibility of its vaccine shipments by slapping EU or national flags on the packaging.
But as of July 14, the bloc had only delivered four percent of around the 150 million vaccines that countries had promised to donate.
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