Brussels Playbook: Vaccine vexation, the sequel — Taiwan tensions — Iran nuclear talks – POLITICO


EU LOW ON JABS … AGAIN: When it involves vaccines, it appears the EU is now repeating — very current — historical past.

In spring 2021, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides argued the EU’s failure to safe COVID vaccines at the identical pace as international locations like the U.S., Israel and Britain was due to preliminary hiccups. It was the first time the EU had performed joint vaccine procurement, and it had realized its lesson, so the message went.

Fast ahead to August 2022, some three months into the monkeypox outbreak, and the EU once more is failing to ship vaccines, mired by infighting amongst EU international locations.

Monkey see, monkey doesn’t do: While in the U.S., Canada and Britain, tens of 1000’s of individuals have already been vaccinated, in the EU, medical doctors are having to show sufferers away as a result of there aren’t any doses accessible.

Why this issues: As we realized from COVID, medical doctors see vaccination as the only solution to stymy a broader unfold of the illness and forestall new mutations.

Take Madrid, which final month hosted Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ satisfaction parade, which medical doctors recognized as a hotspot for transmissions. The metropolis has up to now solely been capable of administer 790 vaccine doses — in the meantime, round 2,000 individuals have already examined constructive for monkeypox in Madrid, and two individuals have died of monkeypox in Spain.

Or Brussels: The metropolis is registering a speedy enhance in circumstances, however is missing doses. (Belgium acquired 3,000 for the whole nation through the EU.) “The vaccine is not available in Belgium at the moment, despite the public announcements,” stated Dr. Jean-Christophe Goffard of the Erasme Hospital.

“These past two weeks, we’ve had a growing demand for tests … and close to 90 percent of the cases prove to be positive. We don’t have the impression that we are currently able to control the epidemic well.”

So what’s the downside? HERA, the Commission’s brand-new well being emergency authority that was created amid the COVID pandemic for precisely some of these pressing purchases, has solely ordered a ridiculously small, nearly homeopathic quantity of vaccines for the whole EU. Asked by Playbook, the Commission was unable to clarify why, however admitted extra doses have been wanted.

One downside appears to be that EU international locations have tasked HERA with procurement, however search to take care of management over the course of, delaying decision-making.

IN NUMBERS: Brussels has ordered a complete of simply 163,620 doses of monkeypox vaccine doses for the whole EU. Compare that to the 7 million doses ordered in the U.S. (43 occasions extra). Of these 7 million, the U.S. has already distributed or administered 320,000 doses, and cleared one other 800,000 final week to distribute to medical doctors. Britain has ordered nearly as many vaccines as the Commission has for the whole EU.

FROM HERA TO ZERO: The Commission was not capable of clarify why it didn’t order extra doses. But it appears HERA is having bother with its core job — securing adequate vaccines for the whole bloc at the vital pace.

“HERA asked member states if they would like to receive additional support from the Commission to access additional vaccine doses, via a joint procurement,” a Commission spokesperson stated. The procurement “is currently being prepared.”

Actions converse louder: In an early signal that not everybody in the EU agreed with this small order, Germany in May ordered 240,000 doses by itself, bypassing the gradual EU course of.

Voting with their ft: Playbook spoke with 4 Commission officers in Brussels who’ve booked vaccine appointments throughout the border in Germany or France (which already had stockpiles of the vaccine previous to the outbreak), as they’ll’t get a vaccine in Belgium.

In different phrases: Contrary to its intention, HERA has not made positive that small and massive EU international locations alike have the vaccine at the identical time. Instead, it has confirmed these international locations proper that made their very own particular person purchases.

SCOOP — ‘REASSSESSING’ THE PROCESS: As our colleague Helen Collis studies, the Commission is now “reassessing” its HERA procurement system, in a tacit admission that it isn’t match for objective.

“The Commission is currently conducting an assessment of the joint procurement mechanism, to identify and analyze possible opportunities for improvement,” an official informed Helen through e-mail. “The results should be available by the end of this year.”

Another working example: Remember the two COVID-19 antivirals everybody obtained actually enthusiastic about final 12 months — Paxlovid and molnupiravir? There remains to be no EU contract for both drug.

As Helen studies, HERA is unable to ship on massive orders due to infighting amongst EU international locations on dose numbers, costs and supply. “In fairness,” she writes, “HERA is limited by the joint procurement rules.”


EU ENVOY EXCLUSIVE: Taiwan’s envoy to the EU says European enterprise contracts with Taiwan are protected and shall be fulfilled regardless of China’s partial blockade.

In an interview with POLITICO’s EU-China correspondent Stuart Lau as China begins army workouts round Taiwan at this time, Tsai Ming-yen stated Beijing’s threats received’t impression exports to the EU since Taiwan had made contingency plans.

Background: The Chinese Communist Party sees annexing Taiwan, a territory that it has by no means dominated however considers a part of its personal, as a “historical task.” Following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s go to to the island, Beijing introduced wide-ranging army workouts and imposed various commerce restrictions.

Adjusting transport: “China is conducting three days of military drills around Taiwan, and, as a result, we have made alternative plans to temporarily adjust sea and air transportation. Energy supplies are also well stocked with strategic reserves and will not be affected by China’s actions,” stated Tsai, who was secretary-general of Taiwan’s National Security Council earlier than shifting to Brussels. 

He added that Taiwan’s inventory market was additionally “normal with no unusual movements.”

Increasing resilience: “In response to any disruptions caused by China’s short-term military exercises or contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan will continue to strengthen its own economic resilience,” he stated.

Taiwan-China newest: Meanwhile, officers in Taipei at this time reported suspected drones flying over outlying Taiwanese islands and hackers attacking the protection ministry’s web site. Reuters has extra.

NOW READ THIS: Our POLITICO colleague and Playbook alum Ryan Heath has an awesome actuality verify on what Pelosi’s Taiwan journey means in his Global Insider e-newsletter. “The visit comes with risks, but they don’t arise because of a controversial Congressional delegation,” he writes. “The risks to Taiwan’s independence existed before and after Pelosi set foot on the island — and regardless of whether American and other Western audiences spend time thinking about them.” Read it right here.


DEADLY CONSEQUENCES: European international locations recorded 1000’s of further deaths throughout final month’s record-breaking warmth wave, in line with POLITICO’s evaluation of preliminary information.

Details: While not offering a exact warmth wave dying toll, measurements of non-COVID extra mortality — the variety of weekly deaths, minus coronavirus-linked fatalities, that exceed the 2017-2021 common — can provide us an concept of the human impression of the sizzling climate we’ve skilled this summer time. POLITICO’s Giovanna Coi and Zia Weise checked out Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, England and Wales — different international locations launch information later — and located a pronounced peak typically. 

Read their full story right here.


GOOGLE UNDER INVESTIGATION: POLITICO’s Samuel Stolton has the scoop that the European Commission’s antitrust enforcers are investigating Google’s app retailer guidelines, in line with two individuals near the matter. More right here.

US SENATE BACKS NATO MEMBERSHIP FOR FINLAND, SWEDEN: The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to confess Finland and Sweden to NATO, placing the army alliance on observe for a historic growth in response to Russia’s battle in Ukraine. More from Andrew Desiderio right here.

IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS RESUME UNEXPECTEDLY: The European Union is making a closing push to revive the Iran nuclear deal, convening all negotiators for an surprising and sudden resumption of talks at this time in Vienna, three individuals accustomed to the scenario informed POLITICO.

Diplomats shall be current from the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France, in addition to the EU, which is performing as a mediator since Iran refuses to speak on to the U.S, Stephanie Liechtenstein studies.

The purpose is to revive the JCPOA nuclear deal, which goals to maintain in verify Iran’s civil nuclear program, in trade for the West dropping sanctions, notably on power. The deal has gained urgency because it may launch dearly wanted Iranian fuel and oil exports amid Russia’s battle in Ukraine and the squeeze on power provides.

The settlement has been all however useless since the U.S. pulled out in 2018. Talks to revive it ran aground earlier this 12 months. 

GERMANY’S SCHOLZ SAYS EXTENDING NUCLEAR PLANTS MIGHT ‘MAKE SENSE’: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Wednesday that three of Germany’s latest nuclear vegetation, that are by legislation presupposed to shut down at the finish of the 12 months, may very well be stored on longer.

Asked by reporters what he would say to European companions calling on Germany to maintain its nuclear vegetation working, he stated that the three vegetation solely account for a “small proportion” of Germany’s complete electrical energy provide, “but still it might make sense” to allow them to preserve working.

He urged some areas, specifically Bavaria, would possibly must let their nuclear vegetation proceed working as a result of they’re lagging behind with regards to growing renewables.

Scholz stated authorities would “draw our conclusions” from a stress take a look at of the German electrical energy system presently being carried out. Results from the take a look at are anticipated inside weeks.

Gas diplomacy: Meanwhile, Scholz additionally shot down Russia’s technical excuses for its fuel cuts.

THATCHER’S GHOST LIVES ON: British prime minister hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are, regardless of their completely different financial and political approaches, competing over who will get to be topped the true inheritor to Margaret Thatcher. London Playbook’s Eleni Courea studies on how every is specializing in completely different durations and facets of Thatcher’s premiership, with Sunak citing her early budgets the place she sought to drive down inflation whereas Truss idolizes her Cold War-era political management.

“In the 32 years since she stood down, no Conservative leader has approached her,” said historian Anthony Seldon. “No one has won three election victories, nobody has captivated the right, nobody has made Britain feel so strong as a country again … Both candidates want to be the person who can capture her same magic.” Read the full story right here.

**With a workforce of 100+ knowledgeable journalists in Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin, POLITICO Pro supplies forward-looking granular coverage insights, breaking scoops and in-depth evaluation, preserving you one step forward of the relaxation. Request a free demo.**


JCPOA talks resume. Diplomats from the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France and the EU meet in Vienna for closed-door negotiations.

— Austrian Minister for Europe and the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler invitations her feminine colleagues to attend the first convention entitled “The Next Generation is Female” in Salzburg, at this time by means of Friday.

— EU overseas affairs chief Josep Borrell is in Cambodia for the ASEAN regional discussion board.


IRAN SIGNS OFF ON BELGIAN PRISONER SWAP TREATY: Iranian MPs on Wednesday ratified a treaty on the mutual switch of prisoners between Belgium and Iran, by an amazing majority (195 votes in favor and two towards). In Brussels, the parliament had permitted the settlement two weeks in the past, after a heated debate amongst MPs. 

The treaty has prompted outrage, even from members of the ruling coalition, as critics concern it should result in the launch of Assadollah Assadi, a terrorist sentenced to twenty years in jail for his function in a bomb plot. The Belgian authorities sees the deal as the solely solution to free support employee Olivier Vandecasteele, who was detained in Tehran in February. At the finish of July, a Brussels appeals court docket had provisionally prohibited the Belgian state from extraditing Assadi to Iran.

BIRTHDAYS: MEPs Antonio Tajani and Christel Schaldemose; Fredrik Reinfeldt, former prime minister of Sweden; European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen; former Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero; POLITICO’s Graham Lanktree; Philip Weiss, founding father of ZN Consulting; UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay; former U.S. President Barack Obama.

THANKS TO: Helen Collis, Stuart Lau, Camille Gijs, Giovanna Coi and Zia Weise, editor Emma Anderson and our producer Grace Stranger.

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