X Close

Why the EU lost the vaccine war The bloc is ill-at-ease with technology, and that will be its downfall

Ursula von der Leyen . Credit: Thierry Monasse/Getty

Ursula von der Leyen . Credit: Thierry Monasse/Getty


February 2, 2021   6 mins

One of the most striking developments in the early months of coronavirus was the way that the disaster very soon became a contest between states. Always heralded as a textbook case of the need for global cooperation, pandemics turned out to be prime examples of global competition. Indeed, once media outlets were able to compare the outbreaks in different countries, most public discussions started to resemble sports commentary — “How your country compares”, as the Financial Times put it.

Some countries were praised for the way they were able to flatten the curve. Others seemed to compete only to avoid being last. There were long debates about the most appropriate metrics to evaluate relative performance and elaborate explanations of why some excelled while others failed. For a while, Sweden seemed to be a winner. Months later it was declared a loser. Germany went from exceptional to average, but New Zealand kept surpassing itself, announcing by the end of the year that it was now reaching the benchmark for coronavirus elimination. One newspaper wrote about Italy, in lines evoking a story worthy of the Olympics, how “Spooked by the dramatic death toll in the Lombardy region, the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sprang into action, using the license he won through emergency decrees to get the country’s famously sclerotic administration moving. That helped Italy flatten the curve more quickly than anyone thought possible.”

Morbid league tables multiplied. They were criticised, of course, but most often because the picture they offered was too static to reflect the realities of the ongoing competition. With the arrival of the vaccines, state competition took a new form, but not a milder one: an ugly global race for enough doses in which the losers are denied a quick path out of the pandemic.

Suddenly, the laggards from the previous iteration of the game seemed for the first time to be ahead. The United Kingdom was the first jurisdiction to approve the new vaccine and quickly pulled ahead of other large advanced economies in the race to vaccinate its population, a rare pandemic success for the country. The United States followed, with the European Union falling behind, but none could match the success of Israel. In just two weeks in December the state succeeded in vaccinating close to 20% of its citizens, leading the world by a very large measure and drawing on its origins as a tightly-knit small nation fighting for survival. The country is now very close to the 70% mark that experts deem enough to put an end to infection growth.

The vaccine wars quickly escalated. When the European Union received a string of bad news about interrupted or reduced supplies from both Pfizer and AstraZeneca, it responded by threatening to block vaccine exports across the channel (a plan to reestablish a hard border in Northern Ireland was later dropped). This was the perfect background for the intense competition between the two jurisdictions that Brexit had set up in advance. On 29 January, a febrile day in European politics, Brussels put forward a legal mechanism requiring that vaccine exports be subject to an authorisation by member states.

Without the production of a valid authorisation, the export of such goods will be banned. The instrument states that it was “not the intention of the Union to restrict exports any more than absolutely necessary”, a stirring admission that it can in fact be used to stop the flow of vaccine doses to the United Kingdom. More damaging, the measure was intended to win a political or even an intellectual dispute, but it promised little in terms of actually delivering more vaccine doses.

It was surprising to see such a carnivore approach from a political bloc that detests carnivore behaviour and, more important, has never excelled at it. It could have been avoided had a forceful approach been adopted much earlier. There is a lot that went wrong with the European Commission’s vaccination strategy. But before everything else, there was complacency.

Back in the summer, the predominant feeling in Brussels and many European capitals was that the virus could be controlled through savvy policy measures. The contrast with the health calamity in the United States made European officials forget that the pandemic was in fact a state of emergency requiring a decisive approach to vaccination. Instead, most believed that vaccines would eventually be needed to root out the problem, but the process could be conducted against the background of a waning pandemic, at least in Europe. There was no urgency in signing the necessary contracts with the most promising manufacturers, with protracted haggling over prices further delaying the process.

We now know that time was of critical importance and that the sooner procedures could be tested and perfected, the sooner a high yield of vaccine doses could be expected. The lack of urgency was also reflected in the attempt to bring a number of exogenous considerations into the process. For many months the European Union seemed more interested in scoring political points on solidarity, market power and negotiating clout than in focusing laser-like on the task at hand: getting as many vaccines as fast as possible into the arms of its citizens. It was easy to see all these problems coming. They were like bad omens and they kept piling up.

The vaccine wars are an instance of the broader genus of technology wars. The reason one could easily guess the European Union would struggle to find its footing is that the bloc has an old-standing problem with technology, seeing it more as a threat than an imperative. And it misses the fundamental nature of the imperative.

First, advanced technology is by definition scarce and competitive. It cannot be normalised: there is always a better way to obtain the same outcome through superior methods. The pandemic was a great teacher in this respect, showing that technology can always move faster and achieve more, or that we are chasing a moving frontier — but the lesson is applicable to normal times as well. During a pandemic, it makes a vital difference whether vaccines are available now or in two month’s time, both in terms of saving lives and resuscitating the economy. This was never understood in Brussels, with the Commission insisting it had secured billions of doses but forgetting to consider when these doses would be available. Even in normal times, being able to lead in key technological areas will sooner or later be translated into more visible forms of global power.

Second, the European Union as a whole — its officials, politicians and organic intellectuals — seems unable to understand that technology is political. You cannot keep it out of politics and this means that politics must adjust to technology at least as much and probably more than technology must adjust to politics. There is no way to be a technological leader without taking risky decisions, without embracing the possibility of failure and without being generous with money and rules — two higher divinities the European Commission will never sacrifice.

It is revealing that, while Britain placed a venture capitalist at the head of its vaccine programme, the European Union opted for a trade negotiator. It was a puzzling choice. What does vaccine procurement have to do with the creation of legal rules? Or consider the news report about how Matt Hancock was impressed by the end of the movie Contagion, in which vaccines are not enough for everyone and have to be awarded by a lottery. One advisor told Sky: “He was always really aware from the very start, first that the vaccine was really important, second that when a vaccine was developed we would see an almighty global scramble for this thing.” You may smile, but whether it comes from movies or scientific papers, a “technological imagination” is the necessary beginning of good policy today.

The main question posed by the pandemic will be the one concerning technology. The responses adopted by governments around the world seem to fall into two main categories. Those countries able to leverage new and emerging technologies to fight the virus have done better in limiting the number of cases and fatalities, while managing to keep most of their economies and societies operational. The countries unable to use technology had to rely on lockdowns, quarantines, generalised closures and other physical restrictions — the same methods used to fight the Spanish Flu more than a century ago and, in many cases, with the same slow, painful results.

I now fear that the European Union will find itself in the impossible situation of having to prolong some of the existing restrictions beyond the summer, while both Britain and the United States start to normalise. That is the cost of the vaccine delays: a very high cost in lives, prestige and further economic losses.

The current crisis has the potential to spiral out of control. The imperative was to reduce the risks of that happening, no matter what the immediate financial cost. But again, to think technologically rather than legally is something that Brussels struggles with. Economies of scale, exponentials, tail risks — all foreign concepts. If we come out of this crisis with a single widely shared belief, if some previously ignored idea could become a new consensus, it will likely be a recognition that the history of technology is far from concluded.

There is no way to stop technological progress, even if, by hypothesis, one were happy with the current plateau. How these troubling facts force a revolution in our political ideas will be an interesting story to follow. Nowhere will it take sharper tones than in the European Union, where politics and technology continue to be at loggerheads.


Bruno Maçães is a Portuguese political scientist, politician, business strategist, author and is currently a non-resident Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington. He was the Portuguese Europe Minister from 2013-2015

MacaesBruno

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

231 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

At least the truth is now known.
The EU was and will never be our friend a competitor definitely, an acquaintance not a friend.
They wish us failure and harm because the British people rejected them and like every disgruntled ex they now hate us while also wanting us back so they can make us pay.
And like every disgruntled ex the best thing you can do is get away and never look back.
Good luck to the people of Europe you will need it while the EU is your sovereign

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I agree but I wonder where this now leaves NATO. As the largest military power in Europe are we really going to commit forces to defending Eastern Europe when our European “friends” do this to us. If the have to rely on Germany to protect them – then may God help them

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Nothing scares the Russians (the one that are supposed to invade Eastern/Central Europe?) more than the mighty British army with its 250 tanks.

Phill Dorrell
Phill Dorrell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Tanks?
Air power is where it matters when it comes to defending the realm.
In NATO, the RAF is second only to the USAF.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Phill Dorrell

Sorry Nunya. For Great Britain and Northern Ireland, warships are the primary means of defending the realm and its maritime trade. To paraphrase, “In NATO, the RN is second only to the USN.”

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Smith

What good would warships do if Russia were to invade Eastern Europe? AirPower would be all that mattered.

Charles Reed
Charles Reed
3 years ago

I suspect we’d breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t have to repeat the mis-step of 1939.
And leave the E Europeans to fight their own war.
At least the RN would keep the food imports flowing from the W.
Sadly in the kingdom of the also-rans, the half-armed man has a better chance.
PS i have part of my family, within 180km of the Russian border and I don’t think the Russians would have an easy time, as they found out in 1939.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Reed
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 years ago
Reply to  Phill Dorrell

Agreed but you need to add up all 27 EU aircraft nos. to compare.. not country by country! We in Ireland have 3 Italian fighter trainers and 9 helicopters!! So there!

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

IIRC every war fighting scenario constructed at the height of the cold war had Russian tanks at the Chanel within two weeks of the first assault. Unless NATO went nuclear first that is. Never underestimate the power of NATO’s thin blue line and the threat of nukes to deter Russia from starting a full scale land war in Europe. Take NATO away and East Europe is no safer than Ukraine from Russian annexation.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

“Our closest friends”, France and Germany, are not among the Eastern European countries.

The UK is supporting the Baltic nations right now against the threat of Russia. “Operation Cabrit is the name of the UK operational deployment to Estonia where British troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
UK Armed Forces have a leading role in NATO’s eFP in the Baltic States, in order to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our Allies and deter our adversaries.
The eFP in the Baltic States is a deployment of robust, multinational, combat-ready forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a persistent, rotational basis.
About 900 British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French, and host nation Estonian forces.” [British Army]

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Smith

I know this but fact is the East European states were the most inflexible EU countries when David Cameron was trying to re-negotiate the UKs position in the EU. I always took the view that even though NATO is a separate organisation, Brexit would be bound to impact on our view of NATO. We have no real national interest in defending Eastern Europe from the Russians. Let the Germans do it using the money from their pipeline deal with Russia done against the wishes of their NATO allies

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

The Germans are now allied with Russia via Nordstrom 2. No-one seems to have noticed in the EU.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

They have.They choose to ignore it.The Americans are livid

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

N.B. Trump supporters are “livid.” Biden’s regime so far ok with it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Because they don’t actually care if the Russians turn the taps off on the Germans.

Germany is 100% dependent on the US for military support. Much more so that France.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

European cooperation) alignment with Russia always feared by the Americans, big part of why they’ve intervened in Europe going back 100 years.

David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

Yes Victor and they have broken the EU edict on doing a side deal with Pfizer and they committed a huge emission crime on new VW cars which broke EU vehicle emission rules. And they fund the European Commission’s antics. I know what all this tells me

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

I dispute that the Eastern European countries were the most obstructive or inflexible during Cameron’s vanity trip. Just as today, they were Germany and France. Quite rightly the Eastern European nations were at the time more concerned with Merkel’s disastrous action in letting uncontrolled mass immigration be imposed on them and so might have had reservations about Cameron’s emergency brake proposal. Which was a barking mad idea anyway as it would only defer the mass transfer of new Labour voters for a couple of years.

The UK has long provided military support to Eastern European nations through mechanisms such as Partnership for Peace after the fall of USSR but before they became members of NATO. These included Bulgaria and Romania.

One of the chief reasons for the eFP is precisely because the EU sat on its bloated hands in former Yugoslavia and dismally did nothing to protect the Ukraine.

We know Germany is morally corrupt. It (the EU is Germany) promoted environmental protection during the withdrawal negotiations while in parallel expanding the use of lignite. It has shaken hands with the CCP despite its ongoing genocides and barbarities.

It may seem lofty to suggest that Germany pays for it but we know from many decades of experience that the UK bore the cost of the BAOR to protect Germany. It is a totally unreliable member of NATO. The wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe and the EU and it pays only 1.38% of its GDP on defence expenditure.

In the meantime, then, the UK will continue to provide desperately needed security for smaller European countries. We are even having to hold the hand of the French in North Africa.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Smith

Mark. There is much in what you say.

In Cameron’s bio he says the Eastern Europeans were difficult in negotiations but he may be exaggerating. Either way, they have allowed the strongest military power in the EU to leave and I just fear that this and the vaccines debacle will sour relations and will impact on our resolve to defend Eastern Europe. I am not a military person and so I dont know how effective our presence is, in military terms, as opposed to political flag waving

Public money will be very tight consequent on the pandemic and I suspect the priority will be the Royal Navy to defend sea lanes which is definitely in our national interest. Maybe two large carriers were not the right anser to this but what is done is done.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Whatever happens there needs to be co-operation militarywise with Europe. Britain would be vulnerable without it. NATO has protected Europe for nine decades mainly financed by America. NATO isn’t particularly about the EU.

Simon Baggley
Simon Baggley
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

You mean the rest of Europe surely

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Smith

The wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe and the EU and it pays only 1.38% of its GDP on defence expenditure.

It’s worse than that. The 1.38% includes autobahns and pensions. Germany counts those as defence spending.

As a great man said, the Germans are either at your feet or at your throat.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

A relative of mine ““ a WW2 soldier and later cold war Lt Col with the BAOR ““ remarked over a beer that in his experience of NATO live exercises the only forces the Brits could completely rely upon to show up punctually with the right equipment and ready to go were (drum roll)”¦ the Bundeswehr. Maybe that has changed, with the Bundeswehr as scary to the Russians as Brussels’ Frontex force. Perhaps Frontex could be retired and replaced with the Bundeswehr Broomsticks Patrol?

Paddy Secretan
Paddy Secretan
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Wrong. Germany will protect them!! The German Army is an organization of mighty and unparalleled strength! After all, it is backed by superb broom handles! And citizens of The EU can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the are lucky to have a President who was such a successful Minister of Defense in the German Government, and they should be grateful that the German Government was so generous as to allow her to become head of The EU.

What a load of codswallop the Urine Union is.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Secretan

Remimds me of the Home Guard of Dads Army fame. At the start of the war,they too trained using broom handles instead of guns. The joke was that the would be victorius because once the Panzers saw them, they would die oflaughter

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Don’t confuse the Home Guard reality with the Dads’ Army comedy. The Home Guard trained with broom handles in the realistic expectation of receiving the emergency weapons that were being developed (plus the Canadian Ross rifles). The planning for dealing with Panzers in the streets was highly developed through the use of trainers who shared know-how developed with destroying panzers in Spain (Wintringham).

Jasper Carrot
Jasper Carrot
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

Well stated.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

The interesting thing about the Home Guard is perhaps its most misunderstood feature, which is its composition.

From Dad’s Army we’re used to the idea that the HG were doddery old geezers and gormless youths. We tend to think of war veterans as senior citizens because in our day, they mostly are.

In fact, the WW2 age range for conscription was 18 to 41, but you could join the Home Guard if you hadn’t been called up. If you were over 41, you never would be. So the lower age bound for joining and staying with the Home Guard – and 1.5 million men did – was only 42.

If you were 42 in 1940, you were very probably a WW1 veteran. 5.7 million men from the British Isles served in WW1 and 4.8 million of them survived. You would have been called up in 1916 and done two years’ military service in WW1 before the Armistice.

In 1940 there were probably a million or so able-bodied men around who were still only in their 40s. Some joined the ARP or did other voluntary war work. But many such men had more combat experience than the average German soldier, and possibly more actual military experience. They were probably healthier and physically fitter than someone in his 40s today; they weren’t afraid of Germans, whom they had got used to beating; and statistically, quite a lot of them were riflemen in the Home Guard.

The Home Guard were not really intended to fight – they were intended rather to guard communications and free up regular troops to do the fighting. But anyone who did so underestimating them – German paratroopers trying to seize a road junction, or something – might have got a remarkably nasty surprise at the hands of its significant cadre of thoroughly unintimidated WW1 veterans defending their actual home locale.

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Originally named the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) and how that strikes a chord with the current situation with our wonderful new citizen’s army, – the NHS volunteers who have turned our hopes of vaccination into reality. However the LDV quickly became known as Look, Duck and Vanish to the consternation of civil servants and was quickly renamed the Home Guard. Nevertheless both instances illustrate perfectly how when the sh*t needs shovelling the British get stuck in and do their civic duty.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Secretan

There are some good men in the German army.

The problem is woke leaders.

Ours are increasingly similar

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Well it is still important to have a joint defence organisation. We at least need to work with them on this even though we may not agree with their aims in other areas.

Simon Holder
Simon Holder
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

Very good point – you cannot hold back Russia or China with broomsticks as Ursula van der Leyen seems to think!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

The US is by far and away the biggest guarantor of EU defence against Russia! Remember your navy is irrelevant in that.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

The people of Europe are not the problem just this undemocratic, monolithic monstrosity that is obsessed with rules and power.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Spot on though for Europe i think you can leave out Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. These are the people the EU called “PIGS” – The Eu Commission and smug french, german, low countries and east scandinavia are the ones running the racket. Like UK the people in the PIGS have Pride, Integrity and Guts in Spades. It will not be difficult to lever the various wedges in here and there. Meanwhile BJ should be asking Merkel when the reparation cheques will be posted to Greece, Croatia, Serbia etc etc

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

I is for Ireland not Italy

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

Do the ideologues running the EU know or care if they are different countries?

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I know some have this need to justify or attack Brexit but the EU can’t be a competitor to the UK or vice versa, they’re different kinds of things and on very different scales. As an additional layer, the Union and particular EU institutions and policies have to justify themselves in terms of added value to the nation’s involved. One of the oddest things that’s happened in recent years is that the UK, which drew more added value from EU membership than practically any other, nevertheless ended up leaving on terms which comprehensively cancel it’s advantages. It’s beside the point now to try to justify or attack that choice retrospectively by invidious comparisons. Let’s talk about the road ahead.

Last edited 3 years ago by T J Putnam
David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago
Reply to  T J Putnam

Can’t see the more added value we got. Certainly not on trade where the EU countries export much more to UK than vv.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Your assessment is too narrow and has a whiff of enmity and belligerence. The UK’s very first vaccines came from Belgium remember!
The UK was smarter than the EU for sure but also lucky. France was especially unlucky with its vaccine development: most vaccines fail along their development: something like 80-90%! So if you’re betting on say 20% of them coming good (you cannot realistically bet on all!) you need to be lucky and the UK was lucky.
We all know that the UK cannot remain open to international travel, in or out, and still hope to ‘win’ the vaccine war while Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and my own country Ireland lose. If all of those lose you lose too! The alternative is to close your borders. Then you lose as well!
Only genererosity will win this war and that goes for the 3rd world as well. The EU has delivered (Covax) vaccines to in tens of millions to the 3rd world. Being parochial if NI doesn’t close its border with Ireland its high vaccine take up will be undone with NI-Republic travel and that suits no one. The alternative is for the UK to offer vaccines to Ireland as we depend on (unlucky and incompetent) EU to supply us. Temember Dublin-London air travel is the highest in the world between two capitals!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

The EU was just way too slow and bureaucratic in the vaccine “race” and – to say that there was huge celebration about taking out a whopping € 750 billion of debt earlier this year – weirdly miserly with its budget.
You have a bunch of French politicians sniffily criticising the UK for taking unnecessary risks – but when, if not now, is the right time to be taking risks and forging new paths and ways of doing things?

The EU is so ossified and self-satisfied that any new process or way of thinking is likely to be shot down, neutered by layers of bureaucracy or simply adopted far too late to be of any use. I’ve spent time working in a similarly bureaucratic environment and even getting one sentence changed in one standard report was a matter of careful negotiations, weeks of discussions over several layers of the hierarchy…and then only if the person suggesting it had been in the job long enough to be deemed able to speak up with new ideas. These structures can be downright Kafkaesque and are almost always impossible to change.

Complacently, the EU believes that its size and negotiating clout are the only things it needs to be a winner in the 21st century. Those characteristics will help in certain situations, but in others, where a quick, agile and entrepreneurial approach is required, it will struggle. Others, like the UK could then thrive.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Sounds like our civil service.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Both need to have a sledgehammer taken to them, no mercy.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

“It is revealing that, while Britain placed a venture capitalist at the head of its vaccine programme, the European Union opted for a trade negotiator. It was a puzzling choice.”

Not really. Who would have bet that the EU would NOT put a bureaucrat in charge?

In the long run, starting late through late approvals and too much bureaucracy, combined with the attempted bullying of the UK and drug companies, will not be seen as a very good tactic on the part of the EU. Judging by how much better the UK did, EU member states might have been better off on their own rather than having the EU debacle tied around their necks.

Chris Dale
Chris Dale
3 years ago

I think many EU member states are aware that having their own procurement would have been better, but what can they do about it? Nothing, Brussels rules OK.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Dale

You think that way because you are wrong.
Germany would have simply outbid the Greeks, Bulgarians and Romanians (especially early deliveries)

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The AZ vaccine, making up the largest component of the EU order, is sold at cost. This was well established from early on. The EU power grab had nothing to do with some poorer EU members supposedly not being able to afford the vaccine.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

No one knew what vaccine would be the first. AZ was the third and as you know it had to so some testing all over again.

Phil G
Phil G
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

I wonder what ‘sold at cost’ means? How can AZ know the cost per dose until they know the actual expenditure and divide by number of doses sold?

Stuart Mill
Stuart Mill
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil G

That’s called accounting…

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil G

It is not unusual for companies to estimate unit costs, and of course in advance of knowing actual expenditure.
To be sure, it is not as cut and dried as ignorant people sometimes imagine. For a start, there are different strata of costs, e.g. direct, factory overheads, distribution and discretionary costs such as marketing.
Then, once estimated, actual costs might well diverge, giving rise to ‘variances’.
It’s called ‘cost accounting’, and AZ will undoubtedly have a sophisticated and mature system.

george_zoe
george_zoe
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

While South Africa had to pay more double the EU price for its AZ vaccine. Shameful! (Shame on the EU for being so skinfllint and lacking in generosity to poorer countries).

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So ? They will now win within the EU . They pay the bills they get favoured treatment.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

And Hungary ignored Germany/France didn’t it?

papillonconsulting
papillonconsulting
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think not. As I understand it, member states were allowed to procure vaccines, BUT only from vendors that the EU itself was not dealing with.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

If individual EU countries had been left to get on with it they would have placed orders and allowed scaling up of production 3 months earlier. The result would be more vaccines for everyone. european industries will be scaling up production of vaccines to hopefully billions this year, rising at an exponential rate. This is the key, if they’d committed earlier we’d all be a lot further along, their production could be an order of magnitude higher now.

Instead the EU spent a pittance on vaccine development and dithered.

Europeans will die and suffer due to this, but hey better that than criticise the EU.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Now that you are speaking English I am starting to agree with you on everything. I have even changed my mind about the lockdown, admittedly with other inputs as well.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Personally I think the vaccines show science and in this case government at its very best. Lockdowns as practiced in the West show the worst of both.

If the lockdown was a vaccine it would at best only save 50% of the at risk but be forced on everyone. It would cause severe side effects to everyone, including loneliness, depresion, poverty, alcoholism, obesity, domestic violence – and 10,000s deaths. It would also have ‘long lockdown’ where all of the above and ruined education, careers, marriages, businesses would hurt millions of people for decades.

We wouldn’t use a vaccine that killed even 1 person for every 100 it saved. It wouldn’t be ethical.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Dale

Someone suggested elsewhere: they could apply to become part of the UK. provided that they agree to contribute fairly to the exchequer and agree to accept the primacy of UK law think they would be welcome

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
3 years ago

The ROI might think about that, although they’d have to bend the knee in swearing allegiance to the Crown. I’d pay folding money to see that.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Dale

For now.

David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Dale

Berlin not Brussels

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

All those venture capitalit in UK…where is the UK version of Google, FB, Intel, the list goes on…

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The Amercans got there first …none in Europe either – exactly the point of the piece, about the sclerotic response of the politbEUro.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

SAP, Ayden, Spotify, Klarna, ASML, NXP, Infineon, Amadeus, Axitron, Dassault Systems, Ingenico, ST Micro…more than UK for sure
The most 10 competitive economies in the world list (Bloomberg index) is dominated by European countries – not UK though.

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

In fairness, have you seen the latest Thomson Betamax player?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

pathetic
I gave you a list of companies

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Poor Jezza…still smarting from Brexit?
Take the plank from your eyes…try to loosen up a bit.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You’ve provided a list of tech dinosaurs (with a couple of small exceptions). Most of these were set up when IBM mainframes were the cutting edge and they’ve hardly changed since.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

To be fair, some of these are pretty current and I have provided services to a number of them in recent years. I assume JS means ‘Adyen’, which is a genuine success, not ‘Ayden’.

Jon Read
Jon Read
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I cannot see a Twilio amongst them, a CRSPR, a Trade Desk, a Docusign, a Tesla, a Roku, a Shopify, a Pinterest, an Editas, an Invitae, an Nvdia, a Servicenow, a Veeva, a Zoom, I could go on all futuristic businesses, with exception of Adyen which is a fantastic Dutch org, the European ones are all second tier. Europe has a terrible record with tech, always has, stuck in its post 1945 manufacturing Nord Rhine Westfalen ecosphere much of which has quietly disappeared to China. Look at Deutsche bank, for shareholders, it is a Trojan Horse for communism propped up by God know whilst losing shareholders 90% of their money over the last ten years! At least in the UK we can innovate even if we cannot manufacture anymore.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Read

ASML more important than any of those companies – check it what it does

Jon Read
Jon Read
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I agree JS.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Don’t forget Wirecard

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

ASML is not cutting edge?

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Some of these are the equivalent of the quill pen they are so old.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Jeremy, these are comparative minnows (except Spotify perhaps and SAP but these days comparatively small). Europe has fallen well behind in the tech war. To understand the scale of the problem and the tragedy, talk to a tecchy.

Telecoms for example, both Nokia and Ericsson now behind Huawei, Cisco and other US companies, with overexpensive products, a lead the European countries have lost in telecoms tech over the last decade. But it’s not just telecoms. It’s the entirely of tech, software and hardware. No one in Europe making search engines (the only sizable competitor to the US engines is Baidu). No Cloud Services providers – no AWS, no Azure, no Google Anthos. No equivalent of chipmakers Intel/Amd/Nvidia etc. No one making operating systems. No DB companies Oracle or SqlServer. Most enterprise grade workflow applications like Office, Salesforce, Jira etc. all from the US. No European virtualization makers like VMware. No containerisation products eg Docker. No one making phones ZTE, Xiaomi, Samsung etc. No one making pcs and laptops, Asus, Lenovo, etc.
I can list a 100 more.

And this happens because? European nations allow their best tech to be bought out. Some salutary illustrations of this problem, examples of innovative tech that started life in Europe, but now enriches the US or the far-east: ARM – in the hands of SoftBank (Nvidia soon); MySQL – owned by Oracle; Skype – owned by Microsoft; DeepMind – in Alphabets’ stable.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

As I always say, a French or European version of Google would only work for 35 hours a week and be on strike or on holiday much of the time.

Michael Inglefield
Michael Inglefield
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’ve always said that if the internet and the web had not been made free and available to everyone everywhere by the good old US of A, European and British bureaucrats would have made it compulsory to have a license to have a website and they’d have put a tax on emails. In the early days we would have been queueing at the Post Office to pay the license fee… (discuss!)

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Tim Berners-Smith Made his patent for Internet be FREE forever….certain Engines&&sites want to control your views and purchases Twitter,Google Youtube

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes, the Americans. Probably, all of the things you mention would still be in discussion in Brussels and we wouldn’t have them – but the UK helped to bridge the gap between Europe and America and get them to us. 10 years ago in the Champs Elysees, the waiters would not speak English. Now they have to because of Chinese and American tourists. How European!

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Apparently there is one more venture capitalist available in the UK than the EU has. Don’t be down just because the UK did a good job with the vaccines while the EU totally failed. Which disappoints you the most?

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

I think you’ll find that he is American and that he would extend the same criticism to venture capital in the EU as to the UK. In both cases, it is not an unfair one.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Another irrelevant post that doesn’t address anything I said.

I didn’t say he wasn’t American. Nor did I say he was criticizing VC in the UK.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

Well he clearly was, whether you said so or not.

You think your post was relevant? Why does anyone care as to the relative quantities of venture capitalists in the UK versus the EU? And why would you think someone should be disappointed that one country/bloc had done a better job getting hold of vaccines for its citizens than another? On reflection, it is a highly cynical view to take. It is in everyones’ interest that everyone gets access to vaccines as soon as possible.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

You misread again, it was your post that was irrelevant.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

It appeared to be relevant to me and that is my only concern.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Looks like you’re out of luck then.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The UK doesn’t have either the market available to it which the US does or the same resources of human capital and networks to tap (Silicon Valley) etc. Thus most of the UK “venture capital” industry is in fact engaged in private equity – leveraged buyouts etc. I think you probably know all this already.

There are a small number of successful and genuine venture capitalists in the UK, such as the one who temporarily headed our vaccine task force and they make a lot of money for themselves and their investors, but typically in $10-100m transactions. Not too many unicorns. It would of course have been unlikely that companies such as Google, FB and Intel (and Microsoft and others), whose largest target market at start-up was the more developed US, would have set up in the UK.

Nonetheless, ARM, Dr Solomons, Oxford Nanopore and Shire Pharmaceuticals are a few examples of UK-venture backed companies who made it quite big.

William meadows
William meadows
3 years ago

I wonder how many of the drug companies (and others) are thinking of moving to the UK. After the E. U. attempt to strong arm them.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Lots of drug companies already in the UK or Switzerland, also not an EU member. But you could be right, some may choose to move to be out from under threats.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

A lot of black-bla here, none of it telling anything we don’t know.

The EU lost the vaccine war because it has no logistical capacity or capability. Asking the EU to oversee a vaccination programme is like asking a bicycle to be a cement mixer. Also, this is merely the latest example of the EU’s rank incompetence, something the MSM across Europe (and the UK) has covered up or failed to understand for over 20 years.

But let’s not get too carried away. This is pretty much the first thing that any UK government has got right since the 1980s, and if the vaccines turn out to have negative medium- or long-term side effects, British people will suffer or die a few months earlier than EU citizens.

So far, the side effects seem to be entirely positive. After being vaccinated three weeks ago my mother began to speak perfect German and is now reading Goethe in the original.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

But let’s not get too carried away….if the vaccines turn out to have negative medium- or long-term side effects, British people will suffer or die a few months earlier than EU citizens’

We are, of course, assured by the experts that this could never happen due to the ‘inert’ natures of these vaccines, but what if they all simply prove to be ineffective against these new variants, then this apparent ‘victory’ by the UK could soon look pretty hollow and we’d all be back to square one.

Our biggest takeaway from this should be the EU’s attitude toward the UK and the intentionally harmful measures it took unilaterally with regards to GB and NI to try and address a problem created by its own ineptitude and how it was fully prepared to act in bad faith without consultation with sovereign member states. Most notably Ireland in this particular case.

David McKee
David McKee
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Both points – agreed.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Medium-term side-effects, if there were any, would already be visible in participants in the original trials. As for long term side-effects, are there long term side-effects of any other vaccines?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

My point was a more general, political one about the EU rather than an ‘anti-vax’ one, although I was sharing the original poster’s caution about crowing too much specifically about the UK’s apparent relative vaccine development and procurement success.

That said, the breakneck speed at which these vaccines have been developed and then trialled entitles people who are concerned to raise these questions and whether they ultimately choose to put them into their own bodies. It should remain an on balance, informed, personal choice.

I know of many who cheerfully have. My father being one of them incidentally.

As to whether there are side effects to vaccines and the presumption that if there were they would inevitably present themselves during trials, it raises the question as to why some are later withdrawn for this very reason and not always because they are superceded.

One only has to look at the
Sanofi Dengvaxia case in the Philippines to see that these matters aren’t always quite so tidy as you seem to be suggesting.

Mike H
Mike H
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, probably not. The situation is complicated by the new mRNA vaccines (not the ones that the UK is using). I’ve seen microbiologists speculate on scientific blogs that these could theoretically have long term bad side effects if they cross the blood/brain barrier, which they successfully did in mice. The side effects in question would be triggering an autoimmune disease that damages the nervous system like MS – they can apparently take about 6 months to start showing up.

Hopefully their discussions were nothing and just a theoretical concern.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike H

Thanks, that a very useful insight.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike H

Why do you say the mRNA vaccines are not what the UK is using? I understood Pfizer to be mRNA.

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago

The AZ vaccine uses a mRNA method too, just via DNA as a precursor. Very few of the vaccines being developed are using inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Our biggest takeaway from this should be the EU’s attitude toward the UK and the intentionally harmful measures it took unilaterally with regards to GB and NI…

I think this needs to be seen in the context of Johnson announcing his intention in September last year to break international law by unilaterally breaching an International Treaty and risk the Good Friday Agreement as part of his rewriting of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. It took until December for him to withdraw that threat.

The EU reversed it’s stupid decision in three hours. Johnson took nearly three months.

George Sekulla
George Sekulla
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

The UK proposed Trade bill amendment last September was in response to EU threats during negotiations to create a food blockade in NI. In Jan 2021 the EU took unilateral action to tear up the GFA to hide their incompetence like a spoilt child bully. You cannot compare to two incidents.

Derek McLoughlin
Derek McLoughlin
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

The EU Withdrawal Agreement was the first breach of International Law in that it contravened a core principal of the Good Friday Agreement, namely that the constitutional position of Northern Ireland could not be changed without the agreement of a majority of the population there. Those who argue that the 56% of those who voted in the Brexit referendum to remain in the EU constitutes such a majority are disingenuous. Johnstons problem now is that red wall constuencies look at his promises to NI and how readily he ditched them. Can they really hope that he will make god on his promises to them?

G H
G H
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

and the EU’s recent actions to threaten to block trade proved Johnson’s fears were dead right.

Simon Baggley
Simon Baggley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

The Blair school of thought – they backtracked quickly so all is well – pathetic adulation

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Sounds like we shouldn’t bother to try to do anything – just lie back and think of Europe.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I hear that the South Africa variant can be dealt with a booster for the variant once a year rather like the flu jabs.

Simon Baggley
Simon Baggley
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I doubt the Irish will ever turn against the EU ” their humiliation as regards the Lisbon Treaty didn’t seem to change their positive attitude towards it

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baggley

Never say never.

As ever, it’s the economy, stoopid.

Ireland’s economic ‘miracle’ is heavily predicated on its status as a tax haven for big business, most notably American big tech ones, and just so long as its successive governments can keep it that way and the golden goose a layin’ then meaningful opposition to the EU ain’t going to materialize.

Ironically, the EU has sought to legally overturn this huge advantage, doubtless viewing Ireland’s exclusive position as potentially divisive amongst the other member states, never mind being ever eager to expand its own growing list of irrevocable competences, but has thus far been unsuccessful. Twice failing to introduce a common corporate tax law that would apply across the union.

The long and the short of it is that Ireland has essentially legally defended its sovereign right to set its own tax rates so the taps stay firmly on for the time being, but should that change and the EU is successfully fingered as the source for that change then things might play a little differently there in terms of how the electorate might then see the blessed union.

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

High or low?
Being ironic there? For after his early successes, he retired to near anonymity as a Burgermeister. ( for the pension benifits, I believe.)

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I was vaccinated yesterday and have not learned any German yet.

Lee Floyd
Lee Floyd
3 years ago

The author makes some pretty egregious comments with regard to truth, two of them being that the EU is focused on legal issues and rules. Neither supposedly fundamental ethical stances were in evidence at all on 29 January 2021, barely 1 month into the treaty arrangements signed with the partners the EU had spent 4 years demonising (the British people), insulting (the British generally, the UK government specifically) or using (Varadkar , Coveney and the Irish generally). These are not reliable partners, and most definitely not ‘friends’.

John Nutkins
John Nutkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Lee Floyd

Well said.

Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
3 years ago

This is what happens when politicians (primarily lawyers) think they understand science and engineering better than scientists and engineers. We see it, too, with mandates for electric cars and green energy, and putting an end to fossil fuels. They simply don’t do the math (electric cars for Britain alone would require more than the world’s entire production of cobalt and other minerals) or common sense (solar does not work at night and sometimes the wind stops blowing). Giving a politician control over science is like giving a machine gun to a monkey. What could possible go wrong?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Mason

This is true but we should be thinking about how to stop it. To me this kind of discussion has to appear in the mainstream – newspapers etc. The danger is that we can all be happy agreeing with each other but so what?

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Mason

cite a source for the cobalt issue please

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

You can read Tesla’s “Impact” annual report. Tesla freely admit, and have done for years, that they have no control over where the cobalt comes from and that child slave labour is endemic to cobalt mining. So perhaps the OPs post should be qualified by saying “entire production of ethical cobalt”. The Tesla report is a great example of using up a lot of words to say nothing, and provides no numbers whatsoever about e.g. the proportion of cobalt bought from third party suppliers. They just kick the issue down the road.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago

The point was in the timing of the signing of purchase contracts. Do people imagine that vaccines appear at the click of the fingers? It takes months, years to build up the manufacturing capacity. Who is going to make those investments without having a contract in place? This is why there are commissioning problems in the AZ plants in Europe. And please note the UK and US spent roughly $25 each per head of population on vaccine development, the EU $2.30. If you don’t make the investment, you can’t complain if the factories don’t exist to make the product. The reality is the EU was hoping Sanofi or the Pasteur Institute would come through with the vaccine, but neither did. Sanofi is now laying off hundreds of R&D staff.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  G Matthews

‘Do people imagine that vaccines appear at the click of the fingers?’

If those people are politicians and/or bureaucrats who have never lived a day in the real world or done a day’s work in the private sector then yes, those people do imagine that.

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago

From the outset this was a risk assessment. Is the greater risk paying too much for the Vaccine or not getting it quickly enough?
The suppliers explained that this is not stuff you buy off the shelf. It has to be made , filled, finished ,stored, delivered etc. All these processes take time and these are new products and things do go wrong.
So when you sign a contract the next step is setting up the manufacture and supply chain. And with new things there will be teething problems.
On top of that all this stuff needs regulatory approval which is far from guaranteed.
In a world where the vaccine companies have the whole world to sell to and they are offering the stuff to you at cost- you have to wonder at the lack of intelligence wasting time trying to get a lower price.
The Eu appear to be a place where countries send its failed politicians who are then served by second rate civil servants. All they ever do is negative. They are obsessed with control. They can say no- but they cannot say yes.

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago

The Eu appear to be a place where countries send its failed politicians who are then served by second rate civil servants.
Ouch-harsh but true!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

Yes, but we have known that for 20 or 30 years.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

who can forget – actually I just need to google her because I did forget – Catherine Ashton? Who she? I think she got as high as any UK commissioner ever got, and yet nobody knew her before, during or after the heady heights.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

Neil Kinnock for President!!!

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

Well Human Health in EU is led by a psychologist (The Commissioner) an interpreter ( the Director General) and a lawyer (the deputy Director General) ” supposedly” all the competences you need to manage public health in the Commission and the only one who could have a claim of being partly competent based on her studies (the president of the Commission) makes a diplomatic blunder. 😱😱😱

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

I must say I was utterly amazed that this oft self-proclaimed champion of European citizens’ rights, the EU, would take this opportunity to quietly and legally assume yet another hitherto ‘ungrabbed’ competence ie health procurement from right under the noses of its sleepwalking sovereign members and then proceed to promptly screw it up and in doing so, theoretically, jeopardize the lives of its precious citizenry in the process.

It’s almost as if they were willingly prepared to sacrifice people’s lives on the altar of a political dogma and just to save a few Euros???

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

The most relevant point of the article is that the EU’s indifference to technology creates a huge weakness, and not just that the EU lacks some “cool” start-ups.

No one seems to want to acknowledge the fact that COVID was a Chinese biological weapon. The launch was maybe accidental, but it’s creation certainly wasn’t. China is at war with the West, using non-conventional means to secure power, all based on advancing technology: cyber warfare, biological warfare, industrial warfare. And China is winning those wars. The EU response to this has been utterly supine.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

‘The EU response to this has been utterly supine.’

Never forget that the EU hierarchies and people like Merkel and Macron do not see China as a totalitarian horror. They see it as a model to emulate.

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Very droll.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

Very serious.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

Totally agree with you. Covid is a ‘manufactured’ virus and in all probability was created at a chemical weapons research lab a few miles from Wuhan. I don’t say it was deliberately released and more likely escaped, but it has caused huge devastation in the West. China is to blame and is responsible.

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

And China will be the biggest beneficiary of the damage.

Vuil Uil
Vuil Uil
3 years ago

For me one of the most enjoyable happenings was seeing Bild praising Netanyahu, Trump and Johnson’s COVID response. So funny. The pain-in-the-arse arrogant Krauts realizing that they are not the great organizers they believed they and their EU cabal thought they were. The German word Schadenfreude fits perfectly.

A good article, but where it was weak was in pointing out that in the time of crisis globalism just does not work. Countries that were less obsessed with globalism did well. Countries like Trudeau’s Canada, sacrificing all to the god of globalism and equality are floundering. Canada must wait in line for the vaccine whereas Australia, with its more nationalistic stance has procured a license to manufacture the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Canada, in the spirit of globalism outsourced most of its drug manufacturing capability years ago.

There’s Schadenfreude at so many levels.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago
Reply to  Vuil Uil

Using the word ‘Kraut’ How horrible.

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago

Whoops unacceptable word used.

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago

As opposed to “p-in-the a arrogant” ? Actually I endorse the use of both expressions when it comes to Germany.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

I like sauerkraut-limes, too…

John Ebo
John Ebo
3 years ago

I never thought that I would say this; but thank God for David Cameron! Had he not succumbed to allow the Referendum, we would be in the mess that the EU brought upon itself – he backed the wrong side of course but his Premiership ultimately gave us our freedom.

alex bachel
alex bachel
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ebo

Of course the referendum produced a result that he thought would never happen. You are thanking him (and many others like him) for misunderstanding the mood of the country. An incompetent politician, among many others.

Andy Tuke
Andy Tuke
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ebo

And thank you Theresa May, for being so utterly useless, that the anti democratic remain establishment decided to change their tactics from watering down Brexit to stopping it altogether. At which point they overplayed their hand completely.
If they’d concentrated on getting Brexit lite they almost certainly would have succeeded

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago

For the UK the EU offices are full of people acting like a spurned spouse- totally irrational but eager to hurt -even at a cost to themselves.
The huge own goal of invoking article 16 without even speaking to Ireland or the UK first tells you all you need to know. Bureaucrats completely out pf control.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago

I wonder how long it will be before Ireland would join a UK free trade zone and leave the EU?

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  G Matthews

Ireland lost its independence 54 years after 1919 and will do whatever the EU together with France and Germany want the excuse being ” we are a small country”. The Irish have been brainwashed by its EU syconphantic so called political elites, medias and intellectuals whose capacity for proper independent reasoning is as large as that of the sheep populating the country roads.

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright
3 years ago

I am extremely puzzled by your view that “It was surprising to see such a carnivore approach from a political bloc
that detests carnivore behaviour and, more important, has never
excelled at it.”.

The EU has always, but always, put the integration/federal effort ahead of any other concerns and has absolutely excelled at (a) ignoring democratic votes against any of its favoured policies & requiring those voters to go again, in a “new” vote compromised by massive EU funding of specific ant-result PR AND (b) has a history of punishing those who simply decide that Brussels is not the centre of the world. Their recent actions/non-actions against Hungary & Poland, their bullying of Switzerland last year & now the UK post-Brexit trade spats show extremely forcably that the EU’s default position is to bully their neighbours into submission.

Greta Smith
Greta Smith
3 years ago

The eu has shown its true colours. Nothing much has changed over the last 300 years, europe in times of trouble is disunified, with the French and German battleing for power at the expense of the smaller members. Same problem Napoleon and Hitler had, europe is too big to rule effectively. Britain was a buffer between France and Germany, and now that has gone. They will unite for a while to punish Britain, but when that fails as the British are resilient, they will turn on themselves.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Greta Smith

Germany didn’t exist 300 years ago – that was a big change. In the last 75 years it’s gone from being two states to one – another big change.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I think you are confused. Greta is referring to attempts to create a united Europe, and to the fact that various parts of Europe have been fighting over various things for hundreds of years. The Thirty Years War, which was about 300 years ago and involved some or all of the states that once comprised the area now know as Germany, was about 300 years ago and is an example of this.

You are also confused as to recent German history. It became one state 30 years ago. But it was only two states for about 40 years.

Paul D
Paul D
3 years ago

No mention of the largest orders going to a French and German companies with no result. The EU is now a Franco/German duopoly.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul D

‘now’?

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago

Last summer “officials” were saying it would take at least 18 months for a vaccine to get to people.
Then more media fear-mongering
Then more panic of sheep
Then governments responded to the panic by encouraging pharmaceutical companies to cut corners
Then pharmaceutical companies saw the opportunity for sky rocketing profits
Then government approved unproven vaccines within 4 months (July-August-Sept-Oct) knowing full well capacity couldn’t be ramped up that fast (Canada put the military in charge of the effort, because we don’t have enough “health” staff, yet, to go to nursing school in Canada, you must wait 4-5 years because the programs are so exclusionary!)
And now the people who self-ID as journalists cry for more globalization?
Are you crazy???
No, what we need from countries is more self-sufficiency. Globalization is the problem, not the solution.

eugene power
eugene power
3 years ago

Wrong Bruno. The Eu loves to extract cash from citizens to lavish on its cronies in research sheds Unis and national champions like Sanofi ( banoffee ?) . throw in a minor counrtry on the committee and you get the galieo project etc .

The method has failed everywhere, from the CAP to Covid . Note no EU wide plan for for lockdown, curfew, cordon sanitaire , sharing of sick and resources… but british fish was a EU resource .

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  eugene power

There is no way to be a technological leader without taking risky decisions, without embracing the possibility of failure and without being generous with money and rules ” two higher divinities the European Commission will never sacrifice. This is exactly what is going wrong on Galileo/GNSS because of the rigidity of these procurement and budget rules which are not adapted for high risk technological programmes. But the EU has its “Astra Zeneca” scapegoat in the person of the European Space Agency (ESA) to which it has supposedly delegate part of the programme but imposed on it the use of its EU rules despite ESA having developed specific rules for the procurement of space activities over its more than 50 years successful track record which brought European space ( non EU as ESA has different Member States including the UK and is not part of the EU) at the fore front of science and technology. The creation by the EU if its own space agency is a patent waist of EU tax payers money.

michael_stokes
michael_stokes
3 years ago

Michael Stokes

Unfortunately the author is wrong. Technology is not the prime concern of the EUs leadership. Technology like every other crisis comes behind the creation of an Imperial power, the United States of Europe, with yet another grab for control over the nation states. The problem is that this time technology combined with a pandemic has revealed the real consequences of the undemocratic corporatist institutions in Brussels.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  michael_stokes

Right to the point

Richard Blaine
Richard Blaine
3 years ago

What strikes me about this article is that totally squares with the coming dominance of China and why that is the case; it’s technology and data, stupid!

Does anything really change? Europeans squabble about petty issues of the past and crumbs on the table whilst our enemies, yes, enemies who wish us harm (after all, is not introducing a deadly virus into the world’s population to gain economic dominance the ultimate case of harm?) continue to advance right before our eyes. Think Hitler and Stalin in the 30s.

The squabbles and petty jealousies must end if we are not to face a real and terrible threat to our way of life and our civilization. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the enemy, the threat and the embodiment of evil. Russia will drink itself to death, but China will technologically outstrip us in 10 years unless we wake up.

The definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The CCP, Bolshevism and the National Socialist Party are the same things. Think about it.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Blaine

What you say may be true but I for one don’t believe that being in the EU is a way of squaring up to China. The EU has done nothing for us and taken a lot.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Blaine

336 Trident II ballistic missiles, launched from 14 USN Ohio class submarines will be a good opening gambit. It may even result in ‘checkmate’ or ‘game over’ as we now say.

However time is of the essence, this ‘window of opportunity’ may only last five years.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Blaine

Is it ? When companies grow very qucikly it is due to dodgy financing. A Chinese billionaire pointed out the massive debt perhaps 40% of loans. The strength of China id mainly due to ineptness of western leaders. China has aquired western technology not developed it by herself.

The real problem for the West is our low pain and boredom thesholds. We want a luxurious life now without pain and suffering: fortitude and endurance are dirty words. The Spartan spirit has largely vanished. As Joe Calzaghe said ” The greatest threat to a boxing champion is a five star hotel “.
Reading Engineering at a top 5 university is tough, Further Maths A level will be needed; reading for a humanities degree at an ex poly is much easier. The easy option reduces our technical ability but we must not state the obvious. Train hard, fight easy applies to training young people to enter high tech jobs but this dictum is largely ignored but not in China and India.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

“China has acquired western technology not developed it by herself” Indeed this is a huge problem, with industrial espionage being used when their place-men, academics and students, in University research departments cannot access the required secrets directly, including breaking into offices and measurement suites.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago

Nevermind the US, the EU has fallen far behind China in terms of technological innovation. Whilst China has a terrible record with vaccines, in many other areas China has leaped far ahead. Europe is absolutely wedded to the German combustion engine car industry which in turn is wedded to the China market. Germany will do nothing to upset China, the Euro keeps German exports competitive relative to other Eurozone countries, and hence the entire European economy remains locked into the world of old technology. China knows this and is simply biding its time to take advantage of all the innovation happening in automobiles to once and for all kick its German car habit. When that happens, the entire EU will shudder.

Lerryns Hernandez
Lerryns Hernandez
3 years ago

The underlying problem is that we are not talking about health, which is bad enough in the Western world. The New York Times featured an article asking why the impact of the virus was so low in countries like Thailand or Vietnam. Simple, they are healthier than in the West. The underlying problem is that we are talking about politics and money. Anyway, we talk about power. Behind all this about the vaccine, there is a power struggle. Money and power. Nothing new under the sun.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

Yes, we have only one measure of health – longevity. So people can be ill or unfit for many years but it is seen to be OK if they can be kept alive. As you say, health would not seem to be important.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I thought the NHS (and specifically the NIHCE or whatever it is called nowadays) ran on QALY metrics, where the Q stands for quality? Longevity alone would I suppose prioritise PVS victims a little further up the scale, though.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 years ago

Bruno Macaes says the EU is not carnivorous. Tell that to the Greeks, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese and Irish. Y

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago

I think the EUs actions will become known as the “Bad Friday Proposal”.

David McKee
David McKee
3 years ago

This is a fascinating and insightful overview from Dr. Macaes. He might have added two further points.

Firstly, the EU is beast which is much given to navel-gazing. It is so intent on furthering its European Project, it has little interest in the world outside (except to see the US as a rival and China as a trade opportunity). The coronavirus came from the outside and caught the EU with its pants down – much as a technologically advanced Britain caught China, nearly two centuries ago. In both cases, ignorance was a self-inflicted wound, and the result of complacency and arrogance.

Secondly, the EU has something of a history of being stand-offish with its near-neighbours. There was a point, in 1994, when Russia might have been interested in joining the EU. For years, Turkey was strung along, as it jumped through hoop after hoop, all to make itself acceptable to the pooh-bahs in Brussels. In both cases, the French and Germans looked at the enormous populations of Russia and Turkey, with all that implied for the balance of power within the EU. The elites of France and Germany decided they would rather retain their places as the rulers of a shrunken Europe, rather than allow the Turks and Russians to have a dominant voice in Europe. So why should Britain be any different? It is entirely to be expected that they treat the British in the same way they treat the Turks and Russians.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  David McKee

Actually they are treating the UK worse than they treat Russia and Turkey.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

They are, and that’s for a very good reason.

One had the temerity to democratically choose to leave it, and the other two were never members.

It’s ‘smack botty time’ for the apostate UK I’m afraid.

The EU is trying to tread a mighty fine line here between doing its level best to ensure that other member states view Brexit purely as an inevitable, crucially self-inflicted failure and not being seen to be too obviously imposing a Carthaginian Peace on the UK that might come back to haunt it.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I wonder what Ms Merkel would make of the concept of ‘smack botty time’. Brilliant!!

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Which is why we should do everything and anything we can to destroy the EU. ‘Death to the EU’ should be our motto, and action.

Mike H
Mike H
3 years ago

I have to admit, reading about this stuff has improved my opinion of Matt Hancock and the civil service. The purchase of millions of tests that didn’t work was heavily attacked at the time, but if you accept the premise that mass testing and lockdowns are required, then it makes sense to take risky bets like that – given the costs of being locked down are so high! The attitude described in the linked Sky News story about the movie is one of move-fast-and-no-regrets, which we easily recognise as being a good idea when applied to startups. It’s surprising to see that the government was so organised and got so far ahead of the game.

I don’t think mass vaccinations or lockdowns are the right way to go, but I totally understand why the government do. Now if only they would stop listening to Imperial College!

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

The EU uses the term “competences” to describe its powers – a mere euphemism, as they are but powers. For power is all the EU seeks, preferably surreptitiously. It is a political project, driven by nothing but a desire for ever more power – but without concomitant responsibility. More significantly, the rapacious grasping for power by the EU pays no heed to the preferences and wishes of the peoples of Europe, even if those wishes were made clear in votes.

This desire for power and control – though certainly not competence – was on vivid display in this vaccine fiasco. The prioritization of centralisation over effectiveness was not motivated by the wellbeing of EU citizens. And the fact that the EU is driven by power, not competence, has almost certainly cost countless lives.

The UK government may be criticised in retrospect for making the wrong decision in times of crisis. That will be clear in a year or two. We don’t need two years to judge the EU in this. They are clearly culpable. Hopefully, soon, the peoples of Europe will rise up and make it clear that the EU must no longer have any power, and that proper democracy must be restored to European countries.

Cassian Young
Cassian Young
3 years ago

> Economies of scale, …. ” all foreign concepts.

Strange idea: economy of scale is often referenced by the EU. Bigger is supposed to be better. It was also the supposed benefit of the EU taking over the entire procurement.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 years ago

Yannis Varoufkais writes in his book that Germany kicked Greece hard while it was(and is) down to remind France about the cost of stepping out of line.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Well it hasn’t stopped France continuing to step out of line in terms of its deficit etc. France and Germany will always be allowed to break the rules. I think Varoufakis was wrong.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

The Germans shafted the Greeks to save the French and German Banks which were stuffed to the doors with Greek bonds because of the Euro. The bill for said saving was passed to the Greek taxpayer, where it remains, unpayed and unplayable, to this day.

William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago

I dont think its the misunderstanding of technology that has hampered the EU. I think its more to do with arrogance, incompetence and group think.

Stu White
Stu White
3 years ago

The country best prepared for Covid future is the one that does least to prevent it

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago

I think the problems of the EU in the situation around vaccines are previewed by looking at Europe’s and the USA’s (and China’s) largest companies in, say, 1995 and comparing with today.

It isn’t just that the world’s largest companies are now in Internet/Digital services, Apple’s hardware notwithstanding it’s market cap is largely down to the services it supplies to locked in consumers,

It’s that they are all American or Chinese, and the largest companies in Europe have fallen far down the overall markey cap list . It is that many of the world’s largest companies didn’t exist even in 1995 or were different and far smaller, and so the world’s, and Americas largest companies are very different from 1995.

For Europe and the EU however the biggest companies are to a much larger extent the same ones now as they were then. It’s a straightforward illustration of the way the EU has seen tech, and indeed change really, as treat and not opportunity.

This essentially bureaucratic view of things is also a big part of the reasons I think they messed up so comprehensively last June/December

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Look, yadayadayada.

‘The EU will be forged in crisis’ so the mythology goes.

Words/dogma uttered by its founding father many decades ago, Jean Monnet.

The long and the short of it is that the EU saw the covid crisis as an ideal opportunity to extend its existing legal competences beyond what already existed in law ie health competences and snaffle them from the panicking sovereign member states amidst the ongoing fray.

For those who don’t know, and more to the point are interested, the EU works like a ratchet. Once its got something, legally I might add, it ain’t going back from whence it came. No way, no how.

The system is deliberately designed that way.

Whether the EU itself will learn anything from this fiasco I seriously doubt, this is reflexive stuff on its part, but the governments, and more pointedly the electorates, of the various member states can’t say they haven’t been given fair warning.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

“but the governments, and more pointedly the electorates, of the various member states can’t say they haven’t been given fair warning.”

Good point. I think it unlikely that the EU bureaucrats will learn anything from this fiasco since none of them seem to want to accept any blame for the mess but it will be very interesting to see what the member states take from it. Will they recognize that they might have been better off on their own, like the UK, the US, Canada, etc and will they ever have confidence in EU bureaucrats again?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Sadly it’s probably a moot point.

As EU President Jean Claude Juncker rather helpfully pointed out to us all in 1999,

‘We decide on something, leave it lying around and see what happens. If no-one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what’s been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back’.

The EU affords its bureaucrats huge power over its member states but with relative personal anonymity, let alone sparing them the inconvenience of any real reference to democratic accountability.

It is currently betwixt and between being a supranational government in waiting and an apparent what’s not to like glorified talking shop for thrashing out differences behind closed doors between member states in the true spirit of democracy.

This schizophrenic status suits it well. Effectively leaving few easily identifiable fingerprints when things go wrong, as in this instance, whilst allowing it to bask in the acclaim if or when things go right, thereby reaffirming the need for its existence and, funnily enough, furthering the arguments for extending its influence.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

It is a system created without any checks and balances – no one is ever accountable. No one can be removed from office – there is no process by which the incompetent and idiotic Von Der Leyon can be ‘impeached’ and removed from office. What it gives is power without accountability, which is why our Civil Service loved it so much. They could very effectively control UK Ministers through it and that’s increasingly what has been happening for the last 40+ years.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

Congratulations on your escape. Very sensible decision.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Quite brilliant when you consider all that.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

In a diabolical way, yes, I suppose it is.

This where its legality and democratic legitimacy is very hard to call into question because its legitimacy is afforded by the member states and their successive here today, gone tomorrow democratically elected governments themselves.

They incrementally and, crucially, irreversibly surrender the sovereignty that was not really ever theirs to give away in the first place, but are uniquely placed at a moment in time to do so.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Is it that really surprising?
Not one major member of the EU has any apposite experience of Democracy. They have all been authoritarian hell holes from virtually the beginning of time, and remain so in spirit, and surreptitiously in deed.

The EU is but the latest of many attempts to achieve some form of hegemony by either France or German, but this time it is a joint venture, or cohabitation as the French like to say.
As before they have been rumbled, and now the “wailing and gnashing of teeth”will begin.
Oh what nectar to behold! The elixir of EU failure is just the tonic we need in the midst of this appalling Scamdemic.
Vae victis!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

Agree with a lot of this. Misunderstanding of the nature of technology is core. Technology does not care about anyones values, or anyones systems of governance. We are about to enter a period of tech driven change that will be more disruptive and painful to human societies than anything we have seen by an order of magnitude (my opinion). That does not mean the option to opt out of technological advance exists.

At this juncture in time it is a terrible idea to have leadership structures in place that do not fully understand the nature technological scaling. Try to manage the fallout by slowing down participation, and you are at instant risk, of those not self suppressing, overtaking you. Which advanced nation (apart from Belgium) will be dumb enough to allow that?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Maybe the EU leaders are the bunch of rubes that the
author describes, its not hard to back this theory if you have any business
experience in the EU. More likely the political leadership in the twitter era
are all idiots, more suited reality TV shows like “Britains got
Talent” or “Million Dollar Beach House” instead of the boring
job of government….Israel seems to have bucked the trend but they’ve
been at war since 1948, so they are psyched up although that’s not always a good thing, itchy trigger fingers etc. Thank God there
is no genuine pandemic like H5N1 or HCoV 229, let alone Yestinia Pestis. If a
disease with a CFR of 1% or less brings out such an inapproriate spoilt child
hate-fest it does not auger well if Disease X does evolve and strike out

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Unfortunately I also am not a Twitter fan. What you have said is meaningless jargon which you could probably pick up in a David Walliams book. Stick to Twitter.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Tell me which bits are meaningless to you and i can explain when i get a spare few mins

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

As an aside, a good competition would result from a balloon placed over Ursula’s head in the photo at the top of this page. What is she saying to herself?

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
3 years ago

The author could also have cited positions on genetic modification and nuclear power as evidence of the antipathy of large parts of the EU to technology.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago

“Those countries able to leverage new and emerging technologies to fight the virus have done better in limiting the number of cases and fatalities, while managing to keep most of their economies and societies operational. The countries unable to use technology had to rely on lockdowns, quarantines, generalised closures and other physical restrictions ” the same methods used to fight the Spanish Flu more than a century ago and, in many cases, with the same slow, painful results.”

Can someone help me here? Which successful countries is he referring to who have kept numbers down while avoiding lockdown a and quarantine? Genuine question.

neilandross
neilandross
3 years ago

I think you can treat Japan, Singapore, NZ and South Korea as avoiding full lockdowns, but they obviously have been very strict on border controls requiring quarantine. As for a country that has succeeded only through technology you would have to say the answer is absolutely zero. Test and trace using Technology has disappeared down the response measure rankings and probably been replaced by age old facemask wearing.

Euan Ballantyne
Euan Ballantyne
3 years ago

Same as we did for Spanish flu? I think that’s either a misunderstanding or a mischaracterisation. Because we’ve never done this before.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

From the headline picture, I’m rather keen to know what UVDL can see in that mask that we can’t….

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Probably she has just sneezed.

Phil Bolton
Phil Bolton
3 years ago

The sub-title ‘The bloc is ill-at-ease with technology, and that will be its downfall’ is not correct. Downfall ? Really ? There are a number of other significant issues that damage it, but downfall ie the breakup of the union into constituent parts because of technology ? Not in my lifetime, and I hope I’ve a few years left.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

To expand on the misunderstanding of the nature of technology in political circles, with a historical perspective.

Prior to industrialisation, all human endeavor was artisanal and bespoke, in essence one-on-one transactions – from production to commerce to conflict to interaction with nature. Everything operated directly in the physical world until Money. Gold was one of the first superimposition of virtualisations of the physical that humanity adopted on a large scale. The issue that always arises with any such modelling is that it may not be perfectly back-to-back with the underlying physical reality it is modelling. This in turn instantly creates the possibility that the adopted virtual model can be ‘cheated’, where the underlying physical world being modelled couldn’t (looking for alchemy to turn base metal into Gold, or joining a ‘Gold rush’ in some geographic area, etc) – cf GameStop today. But hard physical limits still existed – there are limits to how fast and how much Gold anyone can mine, even after you have found the most lucrative motherload.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

2
The first rounds of mechanisation changed those limitations – replication was now possible, but even still the scale of it was defined by and inextricably linked to the physical and to human biological limits. You could fire round after round of cannon balls but the limits were set by the numbers of cannon and ammunition you managed to make, and lug to the theatre in time for the conflict, and the number of humans you had available to operate the cannon, and the quality of the humans making decisions about when and where to shoot. Essentially, technological change still remained at human scale.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

3
The advent of Computing blew that game completely apart. Algorithmic technologies promised, fapp, the removal of all limits in all directions to scaling, once you move societal operational models into virtual domains. There was remarkably little fanfare or discussion in the Politics or Economics circles through the twentieth century for something so momentous; only a few people in mathsy/sciencey/tecchy circles knew what was eventually coming, but hey – we can’t expect Politicians or Economists to know everything. Or indeed anything. Unlike physical domains, there are (fapp) no limits once models migrate to virtual domains inside computational ecosystems. Human geography and physical distances don’t matter. Copying and distribution is limitless. Speed is instant. Human decision-making can be modelled and replicated as algorithms, and then scaled as much and as often as desired. You can access infinite amounts of human and other data; with infinite amounts of storage for the data, and infinite amounts of processing power, both to mine the data and to take over the processing of most humans. You can alter the models which are supposedly back-to-back with the physical world, such that they bear no relation to the physical world at all.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

4
So now, this technological scaling is already possible, if not with no limits, then at least at magnitudes that it is patent are already overwhelming human societies. And this trajectory has only one direction it can go.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It sounds to me as if you are making an argument for socialism – if we carry on as we are we will lose. If there is an answer, go back to artisanal encounters. I remember, many years ago, working for a multinational company which used to agonise as you did. Every 5 years there was a change of CEO and every 5 years there was a reversal of direction. Today’s answer: get rid of complexity and focus on what we’re good at. Five years later: diversify because we have all our eggs in one basket.

I think that most thinking people can appreciate the theory of socialism but not many can really understand how we get there. Starting with artisanal relationships between a few people is fine. Reverting to that behaviour with 400 million people is difficult.

I think you are saying that if we carry on, then politicians will continue to make bigger and bigger mistakes because the models are more complicated. Surely, this is a good reason for Europe to break up into nation states so the ability to manage these entities remains possible for a while.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My stance is apolitical. I’m simply making the observation that human societies, which operate in ‘biological time’ and within the bounds of human biological limits, have hit an impedance mismatch with algorithmic technologies (which they created) which operate in an electronic real-time, orders of magnitude faster. Moreover, because the tech will keep advancing exponentially but humans cannot, the problem will continue to get worse for the foreseeable. I agree that systems complexity will spiral out of comprehension for most people (the political class included) – and the ‘cure’ for that at a governance level will be to hand over decision making to ever more complex, potentially adaptive, algorithms. Which is of course another form of loss of control. It’s difficult to guess how all that pans out, but I have a few different speculations. I suspect we are headed for a Darwinian wildwest free for all in the first instance.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Hm. I understand the words but the words are coming from you and you are just human like any of us. Sounds like a way of making an opinion look valid by adding a bit of science.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 years ago

Hell.of a lot of crowing on here. After all, what’s 106,000 dead between friends? Useless mouths etc? The article is wise after an event but not THE event. Sorry to inform commentators but it seems to have passed them by that the pandemic hasn’t actually ended and since commentators on here are still thrilled by WW2 references, here’s one- we could be in the position of Hitler at Dunkirk, we don’t finish off the enemy and they survive and reform to defeat us. One virologist yesterday, indeed compared the UK to a laboratory for mutations and called it deeply worrying.

Juana Llorente
Juana Llorente
3 years ago

UK is paying more to Astrazeneca for the vaccines than the EU. So Astrazeneca is simply trying to get the EU to «make a nice effort» and be ready to pay more for the doses. Tha’s the end of it.

CL van Beek
CL van Beek
3 years ago

Well, since we are comparing countries, still no drop in ‘daily new cases’ in Israel on 1st of February 2021 (ranked at eight, in the highest number of new cases since 23 Sept 2020).

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  CL van Beek

Israel are reporting a shift in the age and geographical distribution of new cases. Fewer new cases in those who received the vaccine first.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

To expand on the misunderstanding of the nature of technology in political circles, with a historical perspective.

Prior to industrialisation, all human endeavour was artisanal and bespoke, in essence one-on-one transactions – from production to commerce to conflict to interaction with nature.

Money (gold) was one of the first virtualisations of the physical that humanity adopted on a large scale. The issue that always arises with any such ‘indirection’ is of course the fact that it may not be perfectly back-to-back with the underlying physical reality it is modelling. This in turn instantly creates the possibility that the adopted virtual model can be ‘cheated’, where the underlying physical world being modelled couldn’t (looking for alchemy to turn base metal into Gold, or joining a ‘Gold rush’ in some geographic area, etc) – cf GameStop today. But hard physical limits still existed – there are limits to how fast and how much Gold anyone can mine, even after you have found the most lucrative motherload.

The first rounds of mechanisation changed those limitations – replication was now possible, but even still the scale of it was defined by and inextricably linked to the physical and to human biological limits. You could fire round after round of cannon balls but the limits were set by the numbers of cannon and ammunition you managed to make, and lug to the theatre in time for the conflict, and the number of humans you had available to operate the cannon, and the quality of the humans making decisions about when and where to shoot. Essentially, technological change still remained at human scale.

The advent of Computing blew that game completely apart. Algorithmic technologies promised, fapp, the removal of all limits in all directions to scaling, once you move societal operational models into virtual domains. There was remarkably little fanfare or discussion in the Politics or Economics circles through the twentieth century for something so momentous; only a few people in mathsy/sciencey/tecchy circles knew what was eventually coming, but hey – we can’t expect Politicians or Economists to know everything. Or indeed anything. Unlike physical domains, there are (fapp) no limits once models migrate to virtual domains inside computional ecosystems. Human geography and physical distances don’t matter. Copying and distribution is limitless. Speed is instant. Human decision-making can be modelled and replicated as algorithms, and then scaled as much and as often as desired. You can access infinite amounts of human and other data; with infinite amounts of storage for the data, and infinite amounts of processing power, both to mine the data and to take over the processing of most humans.

So now, this technological scaling is already possible, if not with no limits, then at least at magnitudes that it is patent are already overwhelming human societies. And this trajectory has only one direction it can go.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Maybe the EU leaders are the bunch of idiot rubes that the author describes, its not hard to back this theory if you have any business experience in the EU. More likely the political leadership in the twitter era are all idiots, engaged in a reality TV shows like “Britains got Malice” or “Million Dollar b***h House” instead of ther boring job of government.. Granted Israel seems to have bucked the trend but they’ve been at war since 1948, so they are psyched up for good or ill. Thank God there is no genuine pandemic like H5N1 or HCoV 229, let alone Yestinia Pestis. If a disease with a CFR of 1% or less brings out such an inapproriate spoilt child b***h-fest it does not auger well if Disease X does evolve and strike out

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago

There is no way to be a technological leader without taking risky decisions, without embracing the possibility of failure and without being generous with money and rules ” two higher divinities the European Commission will never sacrifice.
This is exactly what is going wrong on Galileo/GNSS because of the rigidity of these EU procurement and budget rules which are not adapted for high risk technological programmes.

But the EU has its “Astra Zeneca” scapegoat in the person of the European Space Agency (ESA) to which it has supposedly delegate part of the programme but imposed on it the use of its EU rules despite ESA having developed specific rules for the procurement of space activities over its more than 50 years successful track record which brought European space ( non EU as ESA has different Member States including the UK and is not part of the EU) at the fore front of science and technology.
The creation by the EU if its own space programme agency is a patent waist of EU tax payers money.

The MEPs are complicit in this when voting for the new EU Space programme Regulations for 2021-2027 since the latter still dies not cater for adaptes rules. More worrying is that the high ranking EU staff who was in charge of this new Space regulation and always refuses to adapt the rules to the reality of space activities is now in charge of Health and thus of the vaccines. And lets not forget the role played by the ayatollahs of DG budget.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

Its like NASA versus SpaceX. NASA’s Artemis moon project crawls along at a snail’s ace because government projects need more than anything not to fail to continue to get political support and budget. Hence every single i must be dotted and t crossed before they move a millimetre, and they work on cost plus so they have incentive to spend huge amounts of money to avoid ANY errors. Contrast this to SpaceX who progress so quickly by failing, even making funny videos of all the launch fails they have before success. Can you imagine the ESA playing such a video ????

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  G Matthews

Well it happens that ESA does not work on cost plus but Fixed price so don’t compare apples with pears. The launches of Ariane and Vega are not ESA launches they are the ones of Arianespace which is a private company. ESA pays Arianespace for the launch of its satellites. So I fail to see the relevance of your comment with what I said on the EU approach to managing technologies.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  G Matthews

I think committees represent the lowest common denominator of courage and ingenuity of the members. The last which was any good was in Florence which comprised da Vinci and Raphael deciding where to place Michelangelo’s David.

What works is giving someone the authority. The Renaissance, Tudor Theatre and The Industrial Revolution took place because leaders recognised talent and backed it. Genius recognises talent, mediocrity sees itself. B Wallis ” Everythong I have achieved is in despite of experts, not because of them “.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

A good friend of mine works for the European Space Agency. I always call it the European Travel Agency because he always, and I mean always, on holiday. It’s hard to believe they ever get anything done.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Don’t judge the quality of a harvest based on the presence of a rotten apple. Go to the ESA site and you will see what the other staff do.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

I don’t think he’s taking any more holidays than the rest of them. I assume they are all entitled to 8 weeks holiday a year. If they take all that holiday and still get things done, good luck to them.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Exactly

Oliver W.
Oliver W.
3 years ago

It’s not a war, what is it with this British obsession?

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

It seems Bruno has some axe to grind about the EU. Maybe they didn’t treat him with the importance he expected when he was a government minister.

Nonetheless, this is a very strangely constructed article. If the EU is at war, it is at war with a virus. Mr Macaes seems to think it is at war with non-EU countries. Production and supply of Covid-vaccines requires cooperation with other countries, not a conflict with them. All countries are in the same boat here – not one has guaranteed indigenous supply of sufficient ip, mRNA, vector, lipids, borosilicate glass etc to be sure of vaccinating its entire population in a timely manner. Even if one did, unless the other countries do the same, it would soon be re-infected with vaccine escape variants.

And then to imagine that EU has lost this imaginary war – we are