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Five countries call for EU talks on vaccine distribution | Free press

Austria is once again one of the initiators: five EU countries want the European Union to restart the distribution of corona vaccines. Brussels is reacting cautiously.

Vienna (dpa) – Five EU countries are pushing for high-level talks in the European Union about a fairer distribution of corona vaccination doses.

Otherwise, the current organizational system would “create and deepen enormous inequalities between Member States by the summer,” wrote the heads of government of Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic to the President of the EU Council Charles Michel and the President of the Commission. Ursula von der. Leyen. The letter was available to the German news agency on Saturday.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) complained on Friday that vaccination doses are not distributed evenly among EU member states, but that additional supply contracts are concluded through non-transparent negotiations in an EU steering group. According to the European Commission, there may be a delay if not all countries order on their share. Unused quotas could then be divided among other Member States.

For example, according to Kurz, the Netherlands and Denmark have access to significantly more vaccines per capita than countries such as Bulgaria or Croatia. The five heads of government criticized the current practice for contradicting the EU’s pro-rata distribution agreement. “We therefore urge you, Charles, to have a discussion between the Heads of State or Government as soon as possible,” they wrote.

The Netherlands and Malta rejected Vienna’s allegations. Maltese Health Minister Chris Fearne said the vaccines for Malta were obtained through the EU mechanism. The Dutch Ministry of Health told the German news agency: “We stick to the agreements.” The Netherlands made maximum use of the room for maneuver and would take over a quota if another country renounced it. The Netherlands was the last EU country to start the vaccination campaign, but is now catching up.

Brussels reacted cautiously to the advance of the five countries. An EU representative on Saturday acknowledged receipt of the letter, saying “We are following the situation closely”. He also referred to the plan for an EU summit on March 25 and 26. This summit will also discuss the coordination of the strategy against the Covid epidemic.

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