EU leaders to discuss COVID-19 recovery efforts

EU leaders will hold a videoconference today to discuss the bloc’s COVID-19 response. The summit takes place as the European

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Photo: Yves Herman/ Reuters

EU leaders will hold a videoconference today to discuss the bloc’s COVID-19 response.

The summit takes place as the European Commission comes under increased scrutiny for its perceived mishandling of vaccine rollouts. Member states had waived their respective inoculation procurement programs in favor of a centralised effort led by the Commission. The difficulty in assuaging varying concerns about the jab—from price to efficacy and safety—has led to significant delays.

The rollout debacle could further undermine confidence in EU competency as delays will likely have substantial economic effects. Although the European Central Bank is sticking to its 3.9% growth forecast for the eurozone in 2021, prolonged lockdowns amid a surge in cases and inoculation delays could force downward revisions with manufacturing, retailers and the tourism sector likely facing the greatest risks. As Europeans point to the relative success of the vaccine program in the UK—which only recently left the bloc—missteps concerning distribution will diminish EU credibility. Despite the Commission’s heightened sense of urgency, the ship may have already sailed, along with it the chance to re-establish confidence in European governance. Decreased EU credibility amid rising populist sentiments could pose a threat to deeper European integration in the medium-term.

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