German Vice-Chancellor Reportedly Slams ‘Really S***’ EU Vaccine Programme

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 12: German Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier (not pictured) speak to the media about the new economic stimulus package during the coronavirus pandemic on June 12, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. The German government has put together a …
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly criticised European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s vaccine programme, calling it “really shit”.

The remarks were initially reported by Bild, Germany’s most widely read newspaper, and comes amidst reports of anger over President von der Leyen’s catastrophic handling of the bloc’s vaccine programme.

Last year, Brussels decided that it would oversee contracts with drugs companies on behalf of hundreds of millions of EU residents, which has been blamed for the bloc’s slow vaccine rollout. Deals between the bloc and AstraZeneca, for example, were agreed three months after the British government signed a contract with the drugs company. So far, only around three per cent of the EU’s population has had the first shot, compared to around 15 per cent in the United Kingdom.

Mr Scholz, a Social Democrat who also serves as finance minister, had described the EU rollout as “really shit”. The politician, who The Times typified as generally being “mild-mannered”, then named von der Leyen specifically and said he did not want “the shit to be repeated now” in Germany. As of February 2nd, just 2.4 per cent of Germans had had the first dose.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was then said to have intervened and defended von der Leyen, a German defence minister and colleague.

However, Merkel seems to be aware of the struggles that Europe is having, stating earlier this week that she was even open to the EU purchasing drugs found outside of the bloc, including Russian Sputnik V vaccines. The chancellor had remarked that “every vaccine is welcome in the European Union”.

German media has already criticised von der Leyen, comparing her procurement failures as German defence minister to her procurement failures in the European Commission. Bild‘s Peter Tiede wrote this week that the European Commission had become where European parliaments dispose of their failed politicians “like nuclear waste in the final repository of Brussels”.

Mr Scolz’s criticism came when the European Commission chief had refused to accept any blame for the vaccine failures.

However, on Friday, Commissioner von der Leyen accepted some responsibility, admitting that Brexit Britain was like a “speedboat” compared to the EU and that the EU “should have thought more, in parallel, about mass production and the challenges it poses”.

The French government has also come under criticism from the opposition, as so far it has failed to produce a successful vaccine. France has also vaccinated just 2.4 per cent of its population. Emmanuel Macron’s government has also rejected backing French firm Valneva, the company which has a laboratory in Scotland which has received contracts for 100 million vaccines from the British government, securing stockpile doses for the British to 2022.

“The UK responded the fastest,” said Franck Grimaud, Valneva’s chief executive.

On Friday, the British government announced that it would also be investing in German firm CureVac to develop vaccines against new coronavirus strains, after British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline also said it would be supporting the company.

Despite von der Leyen’s attempts to impose a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU Ireland and threatening to confiscate British vaccines, a generous British government has reportedly said that it would help the bloc with its vaccines after Europeans were left short.

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