Olivier Fitoussi / POOL / AFP)
EU members have agreed that vaccines should be distributed among countries based on population size, but Sebastian Kurz said that after comparing total procurement between member states, it became clear that “deliveries do not follow the per capita quota system”.
‘Bazaars’ for member states
Kurz said there were “bazaars” in which additional agreements between member states and pharmaceutical companies were made.
He said: “Malta will receive three times as many doses per capita as Bulgaria until the end of July. The Netherlands will not only receive more doses of vaccine per capita until the end of June than Germany, but almost twice as many as Croatia.”
Kurz concluded this was in “clear contradiction” to the political goals of the EU.
“There are clues that point to so-called bazaars where additional agreements between member states and pharmaceutical companies were made,” Kurz said.
“Malta will receive three times as many doses per capita as Bulgaria until the end of July,” he said.
“The Netherlands would not only receive more doses of vaccine per capita until the end of June than Germany, but almost twice as many as Croatia,” Kurz said. “This is in clear contradiction to the political goals of the EU,” he said.
Reacting to the comments coming out of Vienna, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said he supported the Austrian Chancellor’s initiative “for a close examination of the way in which the vaccines ordered by the European Commission are delivered and distributed”.
Borisov, who said he spoke by phone with Kurz on Friday, added that “we must continue in a united manner”, as Brussels has committed to do.
But an EU spokesman downplayed the claims of back-room deals.
“Member states may decide to ask less or more of a given vaccine, and this is discussed between the member states,” Stefan de Keersmaecker said. “It’s possible in this context, following the outcome of the discussions between the member states, that a new distribution key is agreed upon with the company,” he said.
The European Unions has come under fire for its sluggish vaccine rollout, which it has blamed on supply and delivery problems.
European nations lag behind the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom in terms of the percentage of the population that has already received at least one dose.
The Austrian opposition denounced the “”manoeuvre” by Kurz, which it said was aimed at distracting the public’s attention at a time when his government is in “chaos”.
“Kurz doesn’t even know that his senior officials are negotiating at the EU,” the opposition Social Democrats (SPOe) joked.
Austria does hold a vice-presidency on the relevant EU steering committee who has to agree on the vaccine distribution plans.