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IN (FEINT) PRAISE OF URSULA VON DER LEYEN – politicalbetting.com

SystemSystem Posts: 8,489
edited February 16 in General
imageIN (FEINT) PRAISE OF URSULA VON DER LEYEN – politicalbetting.com

Who would have guessed that a month and a half after Britain finally left the European Single Market and Customs Union that it would be the European Commission President who is under the most pressure with some calls for her to resign? Or that German press could be leading with headlines like “the best advert for Brexit”?

Read the full story here

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Comments

  • rcs1000rcs1000 Posts: 35,772
    An excellent article Philip
  • Interesting contribution. Certainly restrained, even positive re: aspects of UvdL's career, which enhances persuasiveness of PT's argument.

    Personally think EU should harness EUROVISION as a well-established, accessible vehicle for practical, popular, truly representative democracy.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    Good piece Philip. The solution, as it always is within the EU, will be More Europe.
  • MarqueeMarkMarqueeMark Posts: 38,767
    Nice try - but a piece that doesn't mention Article 16 being invoked "by mistake" (either by her or on her watch) is one that even her personal hagiographer would feel hard pushed to get away with publishing!

    She still has to get that Brexit deal she thrashed out with Boris through the EU Parliament. If you want a full-blown crisis in the EU on her watch, then seeing that blocked (perhaps as a way to express dismay at her vaccines policy) would be it.

  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688
    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688

    Interesting contribution. Certainly restrained, even positive re: aspects of UvdL's career, which enhances persuasiveness of PT's argument.
    .

    I didn't see anything about her career? She was a terrible minister of defence. A mediocre politician at best whom Angela Merkel never thought was fit for this post.
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688
    I mean basically the thread touches on the EU's inherent flaw. That has been laid bare in this most serious crisis since the organisation's inception. Whilst everything is going swimmingly then the EU is all lovely and dandy, for those inside it.

    Throw up a war in the Balkans or a global pandemic and everything that stinks about the EU rises to the surface and is smelled by all her citizens.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    An interesting point in the article about the UK trade deal and the EU Parliament.

    While there’s some understandable ructions within the Parliament about the UK vaccine rollout success so soon after Brexit, and no doubt some complaints from certain export sectors as there have been in the UK, actually voting down the trade deal would surely be close to a vote of no confidence in the Commission - to the point that such a formal vote would be close to inevitable?

    One of those little EU quirks is that only the Commission as a whole can face a vote of confidence. Individual Commissioners, all appointed to their roles and not elected to any position, face no individual accountability whatsoever for their term of office.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    Interesting piece, Philip, which has garnered a set of predictable responses.

    It’s a fair question to ask why national governments, who are as you point out directly responsible to their electorates for healthcare, did not invoke the principle of subsidiarity. It doesn’t excuse the Commission’s failure, but if I were (for example) German or Dutch, I would be more angry with my own government over their derelictions.

    And was it really a feint (and if so, to what end), or did you intend the more conventional faint praise ?
  • rcs1000rcs1000 Posts: 35,772

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688
    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    I'm not sure things always fall apart at a single moment. It's only looking back that you see the stages along the way, the scenes within the play. This is one of those and it's an important one. Others are looming as the disdain for Brussels ferments.

    If Marine le Pen wins next year, as I now think is a distinct possibility, that could be another decisive scene.
  • Black_RookBlack_Rook Posts: 6,857

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    People have been making those kinds of predictions since the Eurozone crisis started. Britain went, but we were always the odd one out. There's no sign at all of any of the others splitting off - and when you consider that this includes wrecked economies like Greece and filleted democracies like Hungary, you can appreciate why this might continue to be the case. The amount of sunk political capital invested in this project, and the fear of going it alone, are both huge.
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688
    Nigelb said:

    Interesting piece, Philip, which has garnered a set of predictable responses.

    Were they? They seem reflective and even out of character to me.
    Nigelb said:



    And was it really a feint (and if so, to what end), or did you intend the more conventional faint praise ?

    I do agree about that. The headline is a bit out of kilter as there's no praise of UvdL that I can see. I presume Philip did write the headline but it's a permanent problem in journalism when you write a piece and the sub or main editor slaps a headline on it, which sometimes isn't in keeping with what you've written.
  • EndillionEndillion Posts: 3,051
    The last paragraph of the header is repeated. I assume this is a complex metaphor for the wastage incurred by the dual European Parliaments in Strasbourg and Brussels.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    It does rather emphatically demonstrate the merits of the less centralising direction the UK wanted the EU to take, though.
    But given the circumstances of Brexit, it’s a little difficult to see how the EU might embrace and act on such a realisation.
  • EndillionEndillion Posts: 3,051
    Nigelb said:

    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    It does rather emphatically demonstrate the merits of the less centralising direction the UK wanted the EU to take, though.
    But given the circumstances of Brexit, it’s a little difficult to see how the EU might embrace and act on such a realisation.
    Isn't it an equally good argument for the more centralising direction that Macron (among others) wants the EU to take?

    As previously, the problem with the EU is that it's federalised as much as it could without incurring the wrath of the individual nation states, but not enough to be effective. They're stuck in no-mans land. The UK leaving offers them a chance to move decisively in the direction that we were pushing hardest against, which risks antagonising the anti-federalists, but at least means they might be better able to get things done.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    Perdue files paperwork to explore 2022 Senate run
    https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/538928-perdue-files-paperwork-to-explore-2022-senate-run

    Given the stakes, the midterms are likely to be a bigger betting event than usual. I wonder how soon markets might go up ?
  • Morris_DancerMorris_Dancer Posts: 54,989
    Good morning, everyone.

    The EU will become closer, not split apart. Member states and pro-EU politicians will have a natural psychological reaction to the UK leaving and cling together more tightly.

    In the short term, at least.

    Good article, Mr. Thompson.
  • kamskikamski Posts: 1,799
    Nigelb said:

    Interesting piece, Philip, which has garnered a set of predictable responses.

    It’s a fair question to ask why national governments, who are as you point out directly responsible to their electorates for healthcare, did not invoke the principle of subsidiarity. It doesn’t excuse the Commission’s failure, but if I were (for example) German or Dutch, I would be more angry with my own government over their derelictions.

    And was it really a feint (and if so, to what end), or did you intend the more conventional faint praise ?

    I think the anger will be directed at national governments (even though eg in Germany healthcare is very much a local responsibility). But imagining an alternative reality where there was no EU vaccine procurement scheme, would national governments have done any better? I am pretty doubtful, for a bunch of reasons.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    People have been making those kinds of predictions since the Eurozone crisis started. Britain went, but we were always the odd one out. There's no sign at all of any of the others splitting off - and when you consider that this includes wrecked economies like Greece and filleted democracies like Hungary, you can appreciate why this might continue to be the case. The amount of sunk political capital invested in this project, and the fear of going it alone, are both huge.
    Indeed, as was clear by the EU attitude to many of the Brexit discussions, which gave the impression at times of being an effort to show the other 27 what the process looks like.

    The political capital invested is massive, and over decades, and it will take similar levels of political capital to undo everything. I think there will be ups and downs in the coming decades, rather than the relentless push for ever closer union we’ve seen over the past few.

    The election of Le Pen in France, if it were to happen, might well be another key point in the story, but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.
  • CharlesCharles Posts: 30,311
    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    I am 100% confident that the EU will fall apart.

    As of now, I’m not prepared to commit to a timeline
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    There's no sign at all of any of the others splitting off - .
    This is untrue ...
  • Black_RookBlack_Rook Posts: 6,857
    Endillion said:

    Nigelb said:

    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    It does rather emphatically demonstrate the merits of the less centralising direction the UK wanted the EU to take, though.
    But given the circumstances of Brexit, it’s a little difficult to see how the EU might embrace and act on such a realisation.
    Isn't it an equally good argument for the more centralising direction that Macron (among others) wants the EU to take?

    As previously, the problem with the EU is that it's federalised as much as it could without incurring the wrath of the individual nation states, but not enough to be effective. They're stuck in no-mans land. The UK leaving offers them a chance to move decisively in the direction that we were pushing hardest against, which risks antagonising the anti-federalists, but at least means they might be better able to get things done.
    One wonders what kind of "federalism" some of these leaders have in mind though? Are they all necessarily ready to embrace the logic of ever closer union?

    If a federation implies anything it's a single foreign and defence policy, masterminded by a federal government with its own directly elected leadership and tax base, as Philip correctly concludes. If and when France becomes a state in a full political union like this, it has no need for a president anymore...
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    Nigelb said:

    Perdue files paperwork to explore 2022 Senate run
    https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/538928-perdue-files-paperwork-to-explore-2022-senate-run

    Given the stakes, the midterms are likely to be a bigger betting event than usual. I wonder how soon markets might go up ?

    That would be against Warnock, presumably?

    I can imagine he’s not anxious to face Osoff again...
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093

    Good morning, everyone.

    The EU will become closer, not split apart. Member states and pro-EU politicians will have a natural psychological reaction to the UK leaving and cling together more tightly.

    In the short term, at least.

    Good article, Mr. Thompson.

    As long as we have the Euro, it is hard to see any viable outcome for the EU in the medium term beyond proper federation. There is no way it can become looser than it is now without the Euro collapsing, but equally the status quo is ridiculous and unsustainable, partly for the reasons Philip gives.

    The alternative - letting things drift until there really is an implosion event and an uncontrolled breakup - is pretty well unthinkable. That would be a catastrophe for everyone.

    But how, when and why it will happen are unknowable. My guess would be another financial crisis would do it - and there’s clearly one on the way - but I could easily be even wronger than Contrarian always is.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    Endillion said:

    Nigelb said:

    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    It does rather emphatically demonstrate the merits of the less centralising direction the UK wanted the EU to take, though.
    But given the circumstances of Brexit, it’s a little difficult to see how the EU might embrace and act on such a realisation.
    Isn't it an equally good argument for the more centralising direction that Macron (among others) wants the EU to take?

    As previously, the problem with the EU is that it's federalised as much as it could without incurring the wrath of the individual nation states, but not enough to be effective. They're stuck in no-mans land. The UK leaving offers them a chance to move decisively in the direction that we were pushing hardest against, which risks antagonising the anti-federalists, but at least means they might be better able to get things done.
    It’s a fair question.
    But in the context of the failure on healthcare, the case isn’t going to be easier to make, particularly in those countries which have the strongest national capabilities (and which also fund the EU).
    Of course, referring back to Robert’s vaccine glut article, the failure might not look quite so dismal in a year’s time.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    Bill Gates has some very smart things to say about policy responses to climate change.
    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/15/bill-gates-climate-change-468928
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    Moeen Ali doing as good with the bat, as with the ball. Three consecutive sixes! Not going to help England though, this match is done.
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688
    Charles said:

    rcs1000 said:

    I was chatting to a friend in Germany yesterday who predicts the EU will now fall apart

    The EU will fall apart when the forces pulling it apart become stronger than those holding it together.

    I don't think this crisis is the one causes that point to be passed.
    I am 100% confident that the EU will fall apart.

    As of now, I’m not prepared to commit to a timeline
    I agree. So does my friend in Germany. So do many journalists and commentators in the EU itself.

    The death knell for the EU has been rung. It's a question of when, not if.
  • Black_RookBlack_Rook Posts: 6,857
    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.

    It's not, but we've known about this problem for a very long time.

    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    Some think that the next phase of the Eurozone crisis is just around the corner, because of the additional pressures arising out of the pandemic. Possibly, but given what the club has been through already it's hard to believe that this will be enough to tip it over the edge.

    I suppose that the EU is a little bit like Austria-Hungary - a rickety construct full of tensions, an uneasy partnership between two central powers with a ring of largely disgruntled satellites orbiting them, yet which also somehow manages to do just enough to keep itself from flying apart. It took a catastrophic, four-year long war to finish it off; if that hadn't happened then who knows how much longer it might have limped on for?
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    Sandpit said:

    Moeen Ali doing as good with the bat, as with the ball. Three consecutive sixes! Not going to help England though, this match is done.

    An open letter to Javagal Srinath

    Dear Javagal

    We’ve never met, but I love you. You were one of Gloucestershire’s greatest overseas players, and no Shire fan will ever forget the 5-44 you took as you, Rob Cunliffe and Andrew Symonds tore those stuck up Lancastrians apart at Cheltenham.

    So I beg you, please, keep the love.

    Do not ban Virat Kohli. Yes, he’s broken the rules. Yes, he looks a pillock. Yes, he deserves a ban.

    But if you ban him, Ajinkya Rahane, possibly the finest captain in the world right now, will take over India. And with Jadeja coming back, England will definitely lose the next two tests as well.

    Please, don’t think of India. think of the contest. Give us just the faintest chance of a win.

    And let Kohli play,

    Yours, ever

    On behalf of every England fan.
  • Thank you for the thoughtful replies
    Nigelb said:

    Interesting piece, Philip, which has garnered a set of predictable responses.

    It’s a fair question to ask why national governments, who are as you point out directly responsible to their electorates for healthcare, did not invoke the principle of subsidiarity. It doesn’t excuse the Commission’s failure, but if I were (for example) German or Dutch, I would be more angry with my own government over their derelictions.

    And was it really a feint (and if so, to what end), or did you intend the more conventional faint praise ?

    A typo, I meant faint praise.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.

    It's not, but we've known about this problem for a very long time.

    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    Some think that the next phase of the Eurozone crisis is just around the corner, because of the additional pressures arising out of the pandemic. Possibly, but given what the club has been through already it's hard to believe that this will be enough to tip it over the edge.

    I suppose that the EU is a little bit like Austria-Hungary - a rickety construct full of tensions, an uneasy partnership between two central powers with a ring of largely disgruntled satellites orbiting them, yet which also somehow manages to do just enough to keep itself from flying apart. It took a catastrophic, four-year long war to finish it off; if that hadn't happened then who knows how much longer it might have limped on for?
    Probably not much. It was already under severe pressure in 1914 due to its weakening hold over the Balkans. Not hard to imagine the Tsar would have done a Putin and loaned ‘military advisers’ to Serbia to take Bosnia, Croatia and possibly Slovenia. That in turn would likely have led Hungary to secede, possibly along with Slovakia, and after that there wouldn’t have been much left.

    As for what would have happened to Russia itself, it’s anyone’s guess really. So many complicated changes were happening at once that predictions are impossible.
  • MysticroseMysticrose Posts: 4,688

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.


    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    This is such a Metroplitan (elitist) armchair analysis. There are actual, ordinary, normal, people living inside this "Eurozone" you know. And they're very disgruntled right now. It's life and death out there. Their elitist politicians are failing them.

    Things fall apart
    The centre cannot hold
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093

    Thank you for the thoughtful replies

    Nigelb said:

    Interesting piece, Philip, which has garnered a set of predictable responses.

    It’s a fair question to ask why national governments, who are as you point out directly responsible to their electorates for healthcare, did not invoke the principle of subsidiarity. It doesn’t excuse the Commission’s failure, but if I were (for example) German or Dutch, I would be more angry with my own government over their derelictions.

    And was it really a feint (and if so, to what end), or did you intend the more conventional faint praise ?

    A typo, I meant faint praise.
    A shame, I liked the pun.

    This is feint praise, followed by the sucker punch demonstrating she’s useless.
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    Sandpit said:

    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!

    Which says a lot about England’s performance with the bat, and not in a good way.

    Next Test, Crawley and Bairstow become available. Do Lawrence and Pope keep their places? What about Burns?

    Similarly, do we recall Anderson in place of Broad? Or play Woakes instead of either?

    Does Moeen get asked to stay for a bit longer? Or should Dom Bess be asked to return to the side having been told he’s not good enough?

    Some difficult questions ahead of the next Test.

    But let’s not forget, England did win the first Test. These are questions that can be answered.
  • DavidLDavidL Posts: 35,674
    Sandpit said:

    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!

    This has just been an embarrassing performance this morning. Clearly England were going to lose but the lack of fight has dismayed me.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    To anyone who’s still desperate to get on a plane at the moment, have a read through a pilots’ forum - with them all discussing how rusty they are, having barely flown in the past year. :open_mouth:

    https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/638613-russian-737-ils-263-knots-over-fence-2.html
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    Sandpit said:

    To anyone who’s still desperate to get on a plane at the moment, have a read through a pilots’ forum - with them all discussing how rusty they are, having barely flown in the past year. :open_mouth:

    https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/638613-russian-737-ils-263-knots-over-fence-2.html

    A pilot’s forum on that subject sounds like a crashing bore.

    Ah, my coat...
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    DavidL said:

    Sandpit said:

    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!

    This has just been an embarrassing performance this morning. Clearly England were going to lose but the lack of fight has dismayed me.
    Sibley’s 87 exhausting the bowlers on the first day of the series looks more and more important in retrospect. Since then, he’s failed three times with the bat and so have England.
  • Casino_RoyaleCasino_Royale Posts: 40,117
    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    ydoethur said:

    Incidentally, I know it sounds daft but:

    Now we’ve left the EU, can we finally get rid of that stupid rule that requires every website to give us cookie banners before accessing them? I believe it was an EU requirement?

    That certainly would be a major benefit of Brexit for everyone, because they are incredibly annoying and completely pointless.

    Guido has been running a campaign on this, saying it’s a simple test of regaining sovereignty from the EU.

    https://order-order.com/2020/12/16/will-the-cookie-crumble-guidos-brexit-deal-test-on-regulatory-alignment/
  • DavidLDavidL Posts: 35,674
    ydoethur said:

    Incidentally, I know it sounds daft but:

    Now we’ve left the EU, can we finally get rid of that stupid rule that requires every website to give us cookie banners before accessing them? I believe it was an EU requirement?

    That certainly would be a major benefit of Brexit for everyone, because they are incredibly annoying and completely pointless.

    It is one of the many bureaucratic requirements of GDPR which has been not much short of a disaster for everyone apart from the far from insignificant grouping who are making a living helping people comply with it.

    Unfortunately we reached an agreement only yesterday that personal information could continue to be transmitted between the UK and the EU and our commitment to GDPR was a part of that. The agreement was important and an essential building block for any deal on financial services recognition and access this coming month but we are almost certainly stuck with the cookie banners.
  • Philip_ThompsonPhilip_Thompson Posts: 50,313
    edited February 16
    Sandpit said:

    ydoethur said:

    Incidentally, I know it sounds daft but:

    Now we’ve left the EU, can we finally get rid of that stupid rule that requires every website to give us cookie banners before accessing them? I believe it was an EU requirement?

    That certainly would be a major benefit of Brexit for everyone, because they are incredibly annoying and completely pointless.

    Guido has been running a campaign on this, saying it’s a simple test of regaining sovereignty from the EU.

    https://order-order.com/2020/12/16/will-the-cookie-crumble-guidos-brexit-deal-test-on-regulatory-alignment/
    Cookies are meaningless nonsense that operate in the background, but after getting everyone in the habit of accepting cookies now websites put up requests asking permission to notify you about new stories etc - that is far more irritating. Its very easy to click yes to a notification request thinking you're just getting rid of one of those silly cookie requests, then all of a sudden you're getting bombarded with notifications.

    Cookies should remain a part of the background that nobody cares much about besides geeks who know how to handle them, and then notification requests etc should be the exception that stand out like a sore thumb not be bundled in with cookie requests.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998

    Sandpit said:

    ydoethur said:

    Incidentally, I know it sounds daft but:

    Now we’ve left the EU, can we finally get rid of that stupid rule that requires every website to give us cookie banners before accessing them? I believe it was an EU requirement?

    That certainly would be a major benefit of Brexit for everyone, because they are incredibly annoying and completely pointless.

    Guido has been running a campaign on this, saying it’s a simple test of regaining sovereignty from the EU.

    https://order-order.com/2020/12/16/will-the-cookie-crumble-guidos-brexit-deal-test-on-regulatory-alignment/
    Cookies are meaningless nonsense that operate in the background, but after getting everyone in the habit of accepting cookies now websites put up requests asking permission to notify you about new stories etc - that is far more irritating. Its very easy to click yes to a notification request thinking you're just getting rid of one of those silly cookie requests, then all of a sudden you're getting bombarded with notifications.

    Cookies should remain a part of the background that nobody cares much about besides geeks who know how to handle them, and then notification requests etc should be the exception that stand out like a saw thumb not be bundled in with cookie requests.
    What really annoys the hell out of me, is that there’s never a Yes/No box, the options are always Yes and Manage, with several more clicks required if you want to go down the latter route. That’s quite deliberate, so that everyone signs up for the full tracking experience, and typical of how badly-worded legislation plays out in practice.

    Alternatively, use private browsing windows which delete all cookies when you close them.

    Apple are working on something similar for mobile apps, with explicit tracking permissions required. Facebook, among others, are absolutely furious about it!
  • Dura_AceDura_Ace Posts: 6,293



    If Marine le Pen wins next year, as I now think is a distinct possibility, that could be another decisive scene.

    Rassemblement national's 'Frortie' policy of leaving the EU was quietly abandoned in 2019. Despite or perhaps because of Brexit.
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    DavidL said:

    ydoethur said:

    Incidentally, I know it sounds daft but:

    Now we’ve left the EU, can we finally get rid of that stupid rule that requires every website to give us cookie banners before accessing them? I believe it was an EU requirement?

    That certainly would be a major benefit of Brexit for everyone, because they are incredibly annoying and completely pointless.

    It is one of the many bureaucratic requirements of GDPR which has been not much short of a disaster for everyone apart from the far from insignificant grouping who are making a living helping people comply with it.

    Unfortunately we reached an agreement only yesterday that personal information could continue to be transmitted between the UK and the EU and our commitment to GDPR was a part of that. The agreement was important and an essential building block for any deal on financial services recognition and access this coming month but we are almost certainly stuck with the cookie banners.
    Bugger.
  • GallowgateGallowgate Posts: 13,103

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.


    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    This is such a Metroplitan (elitist) armchair analysis. There are actual, ordinary, normal, people living inside this "Eurozone" you know. And they're very disgruntled right now. It's life and death out there. Their elitist politicians are failing them.

    Things fall apart
    The centre cannot hold
    This is hysterical.
  • GardenwalkerGardenwalker Posts: 6,275

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.


    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    This is such a Metroplitan (elitist) armchair analysis. There are actual, ordinary, normal, people living inside this "Eurozone" you know. And they're very disgruntled right now. It's life and death out there. Their elitist politicians are failing them.

    Things fall apart
    The centre cannot hold
    This is hysterical.
    Especially since it is actually the U.K. which is on the threshold of falling apart.

    Cognitive dissonance is a wonderful thing.
  • DavidLDavidL Posts: 35,674

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.


    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    This is such a Metroplitan (elitist) armchair analysis. There are actual, ordinary, normal, people living inside this "Eurozone" you know. And they're very disgruntled right now. It's life and death out there. Their elitist politicians are failing them.

    Things fall apart
    The centre cannot hold
    Calm down. If the Euro survived 2008 then it can survive almost anything. The reality is that probably only Germany could leave the Euro without huge economic damage and the Euro has a lot of inbuilt competitive advantage for them so no one will.

    There are, as Philip's piece shows, a lot of democratic issues arising from this half way house. Governments no longer control monetary policy. Of course you could argue that this is no different from the "independent" BoE or the Fed but in my view the democratic levers are still there in the latter cases should the circumstance require it. With the Euro I am not sure what you do.

    What is essential for proper economic policy is a coordination of fiscal and monetary policy, hence the demands to have domestic budgets scrutinised by the EU. But who is doing the scrutinising? Once again undemocratic bodies. It is a mess. At the moment any attempt to control budgets is going to go on the back burner for some time given the horrendous deficits created by the virus but this issue will come again.
  • rottenboroughrottenborough Posts: 39,354
    Lord Sumption on liberal societies:

    "A society in which oppressive control of every detail of our lives is unthinkable except when it is 
thought to be a good idea, is not free. It is not free while the controls are in place. And it is not free after they are lifted, because the new attitude will allow the same thing to happen again whenever there is enough public support."


    Liberal democracy will be the biggest casualty of this pandemic
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/02/15/liberal-democracy-will-biggest-casualty-pandemic/
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998

    Lord Sumption on liberal societies:

    "A society in which oppressive control of every detail of our lives is unthinkable except when it is 
thought to be a good idea, is not free. It is not free while the controls are in place. And it is not free after they are lifted, because the new attitude will allow the same thing to happen again whenever there is enough public support."


    Liberal democracy will be the biggest casualty of this pandemic
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/02/15/liberal-democracy-will-biggest-casualty-pandemic/

    I think he’s wrong, but it could genuinely go either way - as the 1945 election showed.

    Once the pandemic is over, we will as a society be more determined to use our freedoms, and much less tolerant of politicians who use flimsy excuses to take them away from us for ‘the greater good’, having seen what life is like when that actually happens.
  • DavidL said:

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.


    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    This is such a Metroplitan (elitist) armchair analysis. There are actual, ordinary, normal, people living inside this "Eurozone" you know. And they're very disgruntled right now. It's life and death out there. Their elitist politicians are failing them.

    Things fall apart
    The centre cannot hold
    Calm down. If the Euro survived 2008 then it can survive almost anything. The reality is that probably only Germany could leave the Euro without huge economic damage and the Euro has a lot of inbuilt competitive advantage for them so no one will.

    There are, as Philip's piece shows, a lot of democratic issues arising from this half way house. Governments no longer control monetary policy. Of course you could argue that this is no different from the "independent" BoE or the Fed but in my view the democratic levers are still there in the latter cases should the circumstance require it. With the Euro I am not sure what you do.

    What is essential for proper economic policy is a coordination of fiscal and monetary policy, hence the demands to have domestic budgets scrutinised by the EU. But who is doing the scrutinising? Once again undemocratic bodies. It is a mess. At the moment any attempt to control budgets is going to go on the back burner for some time given the horrendous deficits created by the virus but this issue will come again.
    Indeed. People joke about the answer always being "more Europe" but it essentially is the only viable answer. There either needs to be much more Europe, or much less.

    I don't think the continent is going to see much less any time soon. So the answer is going to be more Europe. How they get there is another question.

    The status quo is not a sustainable steady state, it is a step in the process of federalisation.
  • Andy_JSAndy_JS Posts: 9,331

    Lord Sumption on liberal societies:

    "A society in which oppressive control of every detail of our lives is unthinkable except when it is 
thought to be a good idea, is not free. It is not free while the controls are in place. And it is not free after they are lifted, because the new attitude will allow the same thing to happen again whenever there is enough public support."


    Liberal democracy will be the biggest casualty of this pandemic
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/02/15/liberal-democracy-will-biggest-casualty-pandemic/

    Always worth reading Sumption IMO even if you dont agree with everything he writes.
  • OldKingColeOldKingCole Posts: 21,453
    edited February 16
    As one who has been a life-long convinced and consistent pro-European I cannot help being disappointed in the 'achievements' of Frau Dr van den Leyen, and in the failure to move towards more democratic accountability in the European Parliament. That the Parliamentarians have to take an 'all or nothing' view of the competence of the Commission is something which will have to be addressed.
    Nevertheless there is a bigger picture, which is that the people of a fairly small continent, whose nation-states have fought some fairly savage wars over the past few hundred years are, by and large, making efforts to see what unites, rather than what divides them. In many cases those savage wars were the result of the personal ambition of 'leaders', who saw their own aggrandisement as more important that the welfare of the ordinary people.
    That there will be problems along the way is inevitable; that any one of them should be considered a reason for tearing up the whole idea is ridiculous.
    I sincerely hope that 'Europe' will use this episode as a basis for reform and progress.

    Edit; predictive text strikes again!
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    DavidL said:

    Having your leaders elected does not stop them being shite. We've just lived through 4 years of Donald Trump for goodness sake. But he was then removed by democratic means and this is the flaw in the Commission system that needs to be addressed. It is frustrating enough to have an elected leader who is appalling like May or Brown but it is not acceptable to have someone who is simply not accountable to the citizenship of the EU for their performance.

    This is not von Leyen's fault, it is the system that she inherited and I consider her performance no worse than her predecessor (which is surely the ultimate feint praise). It is the fault of a system that aspires to be so much more without being willing to will the means.

    Why does the Commission even exist any more? Why is it not a part of the Parliament, led by political groupings in the Parliament and up for election? The answer surely is that national leaders such as Macron and Merkel don't want to cede that kind of control, don't want to really build a democratic Europe that has real power over the economic policies of Germany or the underhand government funding of industry of France, let alone the power to control the undemocratic movements in Hungary and Poland. ...

    Well they no longer have the excuse of awkward GB foiling their communitarian plans, so the next few years will be interesting to observe.
  • felixfelix Posts: 12,170
    ydoethur said:

    Sandpit said:

    To anyone who’s still desperate to get on a plane at the moment, have a read through a pilots’ forum - with them all discussing how rusty they are, having barely flown in the past year. :open_mouth:

    https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/638613-russian-737-ils-263-knots-over-fence-2.html

    A pilot’s forum on that subject sounds like a crashing bore.

    Ah, my coat...
    Nah they'll be fine they'll just wing it....
  • PulpstarPulpstar Posts: 64,266
    Sterling cracking onward and upward. 1.39 !
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    Actually reading the article, rather than the remain campaign spin and the Guardian headline, the actual problem appears to be slow EU bureaucracy around flight authorisations, compared to much faster and simpler UK bureaucracy.

    I agree that we need to make sure deliberate go-slow tactics by the EU do not undermine the spirit of the Brexit agreement.
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160
    edited February 16

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    Pulpstar said:

    Sterling cracking onward and upward. 1.39 !

    Dammit!

    (Am I the only person here who earns US Dollars and pays a mortgage in Sterling?)
  • MalmesburyMalmesbury Posts: 11,926
    On topic...

    Von der Leyen is a serial failure at big political jobs. With a special skill in screwing up procurement. And with a further skill in getting into legal fights with suppliers and losing.

    When you look at her career to date, it would have been extraordinary if she had succeeded in vaccine procurement.
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    felix said:

    ydoethur said:

    Sandpit said:

    To anyone who’s still desperate to get on a plane at the moment, have a read through a pilots’ forum - with them all discussing how rusty they are, having barely flown in the past year. :open_mouth:

    https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/638613-russian-737-ils-263-knots-over-fence-2.html

    A pilot’s forum on that subject sounds like a crashing bore.

    Ah, my coat...
    Nah they'll be fine they'll just wing it....
    I rejet the idea of pilots who have spent the last year propping up their kitchen tables ‘winging it’ when it comes to flying very large, very heavy metal objects around very fast. Too many things can go wrong.
  • FishingFishing Posts: 1,727
    Sandpit said:

    Pulpstar said:

    Sterling cracking onward and upward. 1.39 !

    Dammit!

    (Am I the only person here who earns US Dollars and pays a mortgage in Sterling?)
    Nope, at least to the first part.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    ydoethur said:

    Sandpit said:

    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!

    Which says a lot about England’s performance with the bat, and not in a good way.

    Next Test, Crawley and Bairstow become available. Do Lawrence and Pope keep their places? What about Burns?

    Similarly, do we recall Anderson in place of Broad? Or play Woakes instead of either?

    Does Moeen get asked to stay for a bit longer? Or should Dom Bess be asked to return to the side having been told he’s not good enough?

    Some difficult questions ahead of the next Test.

    But let’s not forget, England did win the first Test. These are questions that can be answered.
    Aren't Anderson and Broad alternating ?
    If Anderson plays, and Moeen (or less likely, a returning Bess) can find some consistent accuracy (both big ifs), then England have a real chance. In both India's and England's match winning innings, it was only two or three batsmen who made significant runs.
  • MalmesburyMalmesbury Posts: 11,926
    ydoethur said:

    Sandpit said:

    ...but the message for now is that there’s possibly a little too much Europe - certainly over the vaccine project - and it needs to be dialled back a bit. How that’s compatible with a single currency, which by its very nature demands much more central financial control, is a great conundrum.

    It's not, but we've known about this problem for a very long time.

    How the Eurozone crisis has played out so far also demonstrates the amount of suffering at least some of the member states are ready to go to in an effort to keep the show on the road, and the capacity of the EU as a whole to make do and muddle through.

    Some think that the next phase of the Eurozone crisis is just around the corner, because of the additional pressures arising out of the pandemic. Possibly, but given what the club has been through already it's hard to believe that this will be enough to tip it over the edge.

    I suppose that the EU is a little bit like Austria-Hungary - a rickety construct full of tensions, an uneasy partnership between two central powers with a ring of largely disgruntled satellites orbiting them, yet which also somehow manages to do just enough to keep itself from flying apart. It took a catastrophic, four-year long war to finish it off; if that hadn't happened then who knows how much longer it might have limped on for?
    Probably not much. It was already under severe pressure in 1914 due to its weakening hold over the Balkans. Not hard to imagine the Tsar would have done a Putin and loaned ‘military advisers’ to Serbia to take Bosnia, Croatia and possibly Slovenia. That in turn would likely have led Hungary to secede, possibly along with Slovakia, and after that there wouldn’t have been much left.

    As for what would have happened to Russia itself, it’s anyone’s guess really. So many complicated changes were happening at once that predictions are impossible.
    Which was the source of the Bismarcks comment about the next war starting the in the Balkans. Given the Great Powers of the time.. the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire would have resembled a gang of monkeys in a salad bar.
  • Dura_Ace said:



    If Marine le Pen wins next year, as I now think is a distinct possibility, that could be another decisive scene.

    Rassemblement national's 'Frortie' policy of leaving the EU was quietly abandoned in 2019. Despite or perhaps because of Brexit.
    France leaving the EU would be a massive boost for a UK "re-join" campaign.
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160
    edited February 16

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    The mood music from Brussels was that by leveraging the buying power of the whole EU, they were getting better prices. So it may have been seen as a side benefit of solidarity?
    For sure. And if we finish this year with Europe all vaccinated, and our death rate still significantly higher than other European countries and with a much bigger bill for our share of the vaccine production, who is to say, in the round, that they weren't right?

    The key point however is that Germany proposed the EU-wide process as one of solidarity to resolve a dispute because they were already out in front in what looked like becoming a competition between individual countries. For the EU as a whole, it clearly makes sense to co-ordinate rollout to vulnerable people in parallel (rather than ending up, say, with the Netherlands mostly vaccinated and Belgium much less so). They lost out because the delay in re-starting allowed the UK to steal a march (when did we secure our outline deal with AZN?) and because trying to balance the interests of countries like Italy and France that were suffering badly wit those like Portugal and the Czech Republic, that escaped the worst of the first wave and imagined the virus might be gone, was always going to be cumbersome and difficult.
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    Nigelb said:

    ydoethur said:

    Sandpit said:

    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!

    Which says a lot about England’s performance with the bat, and not in a good way.

    Next Test, Crawley and Bairstow become available. Do Lawrence and Pope keep their places? What about Burns?

    Similarly, do we recall Anderson in place of Broad? Or play Woakes instead of either?

    Does Moeen get asked to stay for a bit longer? Or should Dom Bess be asked to return to the side having been told he’s not good enough?

    Some difficult questions ahead of the next Test.

    But let’s not forget, England did win the first Test. These are questions that can be answered.
    Aren't Anderson and Broad alternating ?
    If Anderson plays, and Moeen (or less likely, a returning Bess) can find some consistent accuracy (both big ifs), then England have a real chance. In both India's and England's match winning innings, it was only two or three batsmen who made significant runs.
    I thought Moeen was scheduled to go home after this Test?

    A and B may be alternating but if I’m honest Broad didn’t look that dangerous. Archer and Stone have both offered more bite.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    No, it would have been better if the consortium who knew what they were doing had just got on with it. The reason for those four getting together is that they all have substantial pharmaceutical industries, and therefore the relevant skills.

    Your favoured outcome presupposes a genuine European government which doesn't currently exist (which is what Philip's article is about).
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160
    edited February 16
    Nigelb said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    No, it would have been better if the consortium who knew what they were doing had just got on with it. The reason for those four getting together is that they all have substantial pharmaceutical industries, and therefore the relevant skills.

    Your favoured outcome presupposes a genuine European government which doesn't currently exist (which is what Philip's article is about).
    Either of the alternatives would have been better than starting with one, abandoning it and switching to the other, yet with no power or budget to get it done without every participant's agreement.
  • TOPPINGTOPPING Posts: 26,999
    edited February 16

    Lord Sumption on liberal societies:

    "A society in which oppressive control of every detail of our lives is unthinkable except when it is 
thought to be a good idea, is not free. It is not free while the controls are in place. And it is not free after they are lifted, because the new attitude will allow the same thing to happen again whenever there is enough public support."


    Liberal democracy will be the biggest casualty of this pandemic
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/02/15/liberal-democracy-will-biggest-casualty-pandemic/

    As that noted philosopher @TOPPING wrote on this very website yesterday:

    "What I also think, however and where I have sympathy for the @contrarians of this world is that the route out is far from clear. What's the difference between staying in lockdown because a new variant might emerge and staying in lockdown because a whole new disease might emerge? Finally, if Covid, what else? We have crossed the Rubicon of government administrative measures."
  • TOPPINGTOPPING Posts: 26,999
    And good article Philip.

    Don't agree with it all, obvs, but the EU severely disappointed wrt NI as far as I'm concerned.

    As for the vaccines? Each Member State could have done their own thing so I'm less worried about that. The Member States delegated their vaccine effort to the EU because, as democratic nations, they decided to do so and will face their electorates next time having done so.
  • Casino_RoyaleCasino_Royale Posts: 40,117
    edited February 16
    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    Yes, quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were non vacinne producing states. And AZ is not the whole story either - you've left out the Pfizer vaccine and the French one too.

    "Solidarity" is emotional hogwash. The EU works through pure power politics.

    If the EU had the budget and authority to start with that doesn't mean it'd have made better decisions - in all likelihood it simply would have used its heft to protract negotiations over volume and price, rather than speed.
  • Philip_ThompsonPhilip_Thompson Posts: 50,313
    edited February 16
    IanB2 said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    The mood music from Brussels was that by leveraging the buying power of the whole EU, they were getting better prices. So it may have been seen as a side benefit of solidarity?
    For sure. And if we finish this year with Europe all vaccinated, and our death rate still significantly higher than other European countries and with a much bigger bill for our share of the vaccine production, who is to say, in the round, that they weren't right?

    The key point however is that Germany proposed the EU-wide process as one of solidarity to resolve a dispute because they were already out in front in what looked like becoming a competition between individual countries. For the EU as a whole, it clearly makes sense to co-ordinate rollout to vulnerable countries in parallel (rather than ending up, say, with the Netherlands mostly vaccinated and Belgium much less so). They lost out because the delay in re-starting allowed the UK to steal a march (when did we secure our outline deal with AZN?) and because trying to balance the interests of countries like Italy and France that were suffering badly wit those like Portugal and the Czech Republic, that escaped the worst of the first wave and imagined the virus might be gone, was always going to be cumbersome and difficult.
    If Belgium were falling behind then the correct answer would be for Belgian politicians to get their arse in gear and sort out their own vaccine supply, not drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

    The great European myth that "solidarity" means bigger means better supply has been exposed as untrue. The idea being claimed was that working alone small countries wouldn't have been able to get vaccine supplies but that is categorically untrue - if you look at the list of countries that are doing better than the European Union is now then besides the US and the UK it is primarily a "who's who" of wealthy small countries. There was no reason that Belgium and other wealthy European small countries couldn't have initiated their own contracts on their own.
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998
    edited February 16
    IanB2 said:

    Nigelb said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    No, it would have been better if the consortium who knew what they were doing had just got on with it. The reason for those four getting together is that they all have substantial pharmaceutical industries, and therefore the relevant skills.

    Your favoured outcome presupposes a genuine European government which doesn't currently exist (which is what Philip's article is about).
    Either of the alternatives would have been better than starting with one, abandoning it and switching to the other, yet with no power or budget to get it done without every participant's agreement.
    Yes, the correct way to have done it, would have been to allow the previous consortium to continue, but under the EU rather than four individual nations.

    The issue with that would be the politics in those countries, who would legitimately see ‘their’ vaccines redistributed to other EU member states.

    From the EU perspective, slower but in solidarity seemed the best way forward - until it became clear that the UK had stolen a march on them. If it weren’t for that, and only the USA and Israel were marching ahead, there wouldn't have been an issue.
  • ydoethurydoethur Posts: 36,093
    IanB2 said:

    Nigelb said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    No, it would have been better if the consortium who knew what they were doing had just got on with it. The reason for those four getting together is that they all have substantial pharmaceutical industries, and therefore the relevant skills.

    Your favoured outcome presupposes a genuine European government which doesn't currently exist (which is what Philip's article is about).
    Either of the alternatives would have been better than starting with one, abandoning it and switching to the other, yet with no power or budget to get it done without every participant's agreement.
    I think however you cut it, the EU and its members have made a complete mess of vaccine procurement.

    Which is both unfortunate, given it will cost lives, and embarrassing, as the UK has done a lot better. So much better in fact that despite a constant battle against shortages, misinformation, and confusion, it has partially vaccinated almost one-third of its adult population in just two months.

    But it’s worth remembering very few countries or organisations have done well on vaccinations. Canada is doing even worse. So is New Zealand.

    So while this shows the EU’s weaknesses, and is a personal humiliation for von der Leyen, it’s unlikely to lead to significant reform.

    The weakness of the Eurozone model is ultimately where the EU will be made or broken, although the delay in reopening the economy due to the vaccination issues will exacerbate its problems and may indeed be what leads to reform.
  • Casino_RoyaleCasino_Royale Posts: 40,117
    Sandpit said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    The mood music from Brussels was that by leveraging the buying power of the whole EU, they were getting better prices. So it may have been seen as a side benefit of solidarity?
    Oh indeed, but the EU decided that price and liability were their big issues, whereas the UK decided that speed of approval and delivery, and manufacturing investment were more important.

    So the UK has had to eat price and liability, and the EU has had to eat speed and facilities.
    Price of course being almost immaterial next to the opportunity cost of not getting your economy fully up and running as quickly as possible.
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    Yes, quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were non vacinne producing states. And AZ is not the whole story either - you've left out the Pfizer vaccine and the French one too.

    "Solidarity" is emotional hogwash. The EU works through pure power politics.

    If the EU had the budget and authority to start with that doesn't mean it'd have made better decisions - in all likelihood it simply would have used its heft to protract negotiations over volume and price, rather than speed.
    So your case has dissolved into resting upon a hypothetical. It is almost certain that had the EU-wide process started a few months earlier, and had the necessary authority and budget to act on behalf of all members, they would have secured a better outcome than the one they have. How much better, who can say?

    The alternative scenario, of continuing with each country securing its own deals, would surely have delivered a better result for Germany, Italy and France, and almost certainly a worse one for many of the other members.

    Since the total amount of vaccine available right now would be the same, either of these alternatives may have put the UK supply back into the pack. Indeed the German consortium might have beaten us to the line with AZN.
  • Northern_AlNorthern_Al Posts: 1,056
    An interesting header, and subsequent discussion.

    Brexit having been done, in my naivety I had thought that discussion of the shortcomings of the EU would diminish. How wrong I was. Brexiteers in particular, having left the EU, have become even more obsessed with it, as evidenced by the sheer volume of commentary on the EU on this site this year.

    Anybody who thought that leaving the EU would stop those opposed to it "banging on" about it was as naive as I was.
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160

    Sandpit said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    The mood music from Brussels was that by leveraging the buying power of the whole EU, they were getting better prices. So it may have been seen as a side benefit of solidarity?
    Oh indeed, but the EU decided that price and liability were their big issues, whereas the UK decided that speed of approval and delivery, and manufacturing investment were more important.

    So the UK has had to eat price and liability, and the EU has had to eat speed and facilities.
    Price of course being almost immaterial next to the opportunity cost of not getting your economy fully up and running as quickly as possible.
    Whether we manage that is another hypothetical. We are of course delighted with the falling UK case and death numbers, but it's worth noting that numbers are now falling in most European countries, and indeed across the world - including where vaccination has barely started. And southern Europe gets the warmer weather, when social life moves outside, first. Given that the Mediterranean can run much social and economic activity outside during the summer, it is too early to say that we will have a significant economic advantage.
  • NigelbNigelb Posts: 29,455
    .
    ydoethur said:

    Nigelb said:

    ydoethur said:

    Sandpit said:

    LOL, Ali 43 from 18 balls, to be England’s highest scorer of the match!

    Which says a lot about England’s performance with the bat, and not in a good way.

    Next Test, Crawley and Bairstow become available. Do Lawrence and Pope keep their places? What about Burns?

    Similarly, do we recall Anderson in place of Broad? Or play Woakes instead of either?

    Does Moeen get asked to stay for a bit longer? Or should Dom Bess be asked to return to the side having been told he’s not good enough?

    Some difficult questions ahead of the next Test.

    But let’s not forget, England did win the first Test. These are questions that can be answered.
    Aren't Anderson and Broad alternating ?
    If Anderson plays, and Moeen (or less likely, a returning Bess) can find some consistent accuracy (both big ifs), then England have a real chance. In both India's and England's match winning innings, it was only two or three batsmen who made significant runs.
    I thought Moeen was scheduled to go home after this Test?

    A and B may be alternating but if I’m honest Broad didn’t look that dangerous. Archer and Stone have both offered more bite.
    Agreed. But Anderson at his best is the real difference. Unfortunately, were he to play every test, he would likely be far less effective.
    I hadn't realised Moeen was going home after a single game; that's utterly crazy. He was fairly hopeless in terms of accuracy in the first innings, when it mattered, and had just about found some form in the second, when it didn't. If he's not going to play in the next test, what was the point of picking him ?
  • YBarddCwscYBarddCwsc Posts: 5,392
    IanB2 said:



    So your case has dissolved into resting upon a hypothetical. It is almost certain that had the EU-wide process started a few months earlier, and had the necessary authority and budget to act on behalf of all members, they would have secured a better outcome than the one they have. How much better, who can say?

    The alternative scenario, of continuing with each country securing its own deals, would surely have delivered a better result for Germany, Italy and France, and almost certainly a worse one for many of the other members.

    Why would it have delivered a worse result for many of the other members?

    You do realise Serbia is in a better position than every EU country in the International Vaccine Table.
  • Morris_DancerMorris_Dancer Posts: 54,989
    Mr. Sandpit, I get paid in dollars, and noticed only yesterday that the pound's up three cents in the last month or so.

    Humbug.
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160

    An interesting header, and subsequent discussion.

    Brexit having been done, in my naivety I had thought that discussion of the shortcomings of the EU would diminish. How wrong I was. Brexiteers in particular, having left the EU, have become even more obsessed with it, as evidenced by the sheer volume of commentary on the EU on this site this year.

    Anybody who thought that leaving the EU would stop those opposed to it "banging on" about it was as naive as I was.

    We are destined to have the EU as part of our political debate for ever, and much more so than had we remained members. As is the case in both Norway and Switzerland.

    What is amusing is seeing Brexiters trying to project their prior prejudices about the EU onto the story and re-writing the history to match
  • TOPPINGTOPPING Posts: 26,999

    An interesting header, and subsequent discussion.

    Brexit having been done, in my naivety I had thought that discussion of the shortcomings of the EU would diminish. How wrong I was. Brexiteers in particular, having left the EU, have become even more obsessed with it, as evidenced by the sheer volume of commentary on the EU on this site this year.

    Anybody who thought that leaving the EU would stop those opposed to it "banging on" about it was as naive as I was.

    They are indeed obsessed by it.

    Brexiters: it is completely irrelevant that there is this huge landmass and trading bloc on our doorstep we should be looking to Tonga for the future.

    Also Brexiters: Look at what the EU are doing now. Look at them handle this. I can't believe they did that.
  • Casino_RoyaleCasino_Royale Posts: 40,117

    An interesting header, and subsequent discussion.

    Brexit having been done, in my naivety I had thought that discussion of the shortcomings of the EU would diminish. How wrong I was. Brexiteers in particular, having left the EU, have become even more obsessed with it, as evidenced by the sheer volume of commentary on the EU on this site this year.

    Anybody who thought that leaving the EU would stop those opposed to it "banging on" about it was as naive as I was.

    Maybe I'm wrong here but is it always Brexiteers who incessantly post Brexit tweets and news stories on here on a daily basis? Because I can think of three posters who immediately spring to mind, and none of them are Leave supporters.

    FWIW I think the site is far calmer and more collegiate now than it has been in several years, notwithstanding that.
  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160

    IanB2 said:



    So your case has dissolved into resting upon a hypothetical. It is almost certain that had the EU-wide process started a few months earlier, and had the necessary authority and budget to act on behalf of all members, they would have secured a better outcome than the one they have. How much better, who can say?

    The alternative scenario, of continuing with each country securing its own deals, would surely have delivered a better result for Germany, Italy and France, and almost certainly a worse one for many of the other members.

    Why would it have delivered a worse result for many of the other members?

    You do realise Serbia is in a better position than every EU country in the International Vaccine Table.
    Because it is self evident that with a fixed (or as good as) total of vaccine available, it was a zero sum game. Had Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands progressed and landed their deal with AZN, there would have been less AZN vaccine available now for other EU members (and, possibly, the UK).
  • SandpitSandpit Posts: 29,998

    Sandpit said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    The mood music from Brussels was that by leveraging the buying power of the whole EU, they were getting better prices. So it may have been seen as a side benefit of solidarity?
    Oh indeed, but the EU decided that price and liability were their big issues, whereas the UK decided that speed of approval and delivery, and manufacturing investment were more important.

    So the UK has had to eat price and liability, and the EU has had to eat speed and facilities.
    Price of course being almost immaterial next to the opportunity cost of not getting your economy fully up and running as quickly as possible.
    Quite. When the Chancellor has a net -£30bn a month in revenue because of a pandemic, dumping three or four billion into speeding up the vaccination deliveries by several months is the biggest no-brainer ever.
  • Philip_ThompsonPhilip_Thompson Posts: 50,313
    edited February 16
    IanB2 said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) had already secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    Yes, quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were non vacinne producing states. And AZ is not the whole story either - you've left out the Pfizer vaccine and the French one too.

    "Solidarity" is emotional hogwash. The EU works through pure power politics.

    If the EU had the budget and authority to start with that doesn't mean it'd have made better decisions - in all likelihood it simply would have used its heft to protract negotiations over volume and price, rather than speed.
    So your case has dissolved into resting upon a hypothetical. It is almost certain that had the EU-wide process started a few months earlier, and had the necessary authority and budget to act on behalf of all members, they would have secured a better outcome than the one they have. How much better, who can say?

    The alternative scenario, of continuing with each country securing its own deals, would surely have delivered a better result for Germany, Italy and France, and almost certainly a worse one for many of the other members.

    Since the total amount of vaccine available right now would be the same, either of these alternatives may have put the UK supply back into the pack. Indeed the German consortium might have beaten us to the line with AZN.
    Why would it be worse for the others?

    The issue was delays in signing the contracts led to delays in getting manufacturing up and running. Had the first consortium signed its deal months sooner then investment would have begun much sooner, manufacturing would have begun much sooner.

    Other nations that had fallen asleep at the wheel could have woken up and signed their own deals in a similar timescale to what the EU did but critically there would have been more investment sooner, so more aggregate output sooner.

    The total amount of vaccine available right now being the same is a complete and utter myth or fabrication - as confirmed by the CEO of Astrazeneca the only reason that the European Astrazeneca plant is not producing the expected amount of vaccine is they are three months behind on manufacturing. Had they begun three months sooner as they should have then there would be far, far more vaccine available right now.

    PS the UK contract was signed before the European consortium was ready to sign, which was before the EU took it over. So the UK contract would never have been affected either way.
  • FishingFishing Posts: 1,727
    IanB2 said:

    An interesting header, and subsequent discussion.

    Brexit having been done, in my naivety I had thought that discussion of the shortcomings of the EU would diminish. How wrong I was. Brexiteers in particular, having left the EU, have become even more obsessed with it, as evidenced by the sheer volume of commentary on the EU on this site this year.

    Anybody who thought that leaving the EU would stop those opposed to it "banging on" about it was as naive as I was.

    We are destined to have the EU as part of our political debate for ever, and much more so than had we remained members.
    I agree with the first part of that, but not the second. The EU will always be with us (as long as it exists anyway) but I think its salience will decline as its influence over us is reduced. Instead of spending a generation banging on about Europe, the Conservatives can now focus on the country's many other problems, most of which don't have a significant European dimension.

    Of course, that may be a poisoned chalice.

  • IanB2IanB2 Posts: 32,160

    IanB2 said:

    IanB2 said:

    Very well written article, Phillip; I enjoyed it.

    The member states say they ceded vacinne negotiation to the Commission out of European "solidarity" over the pandemic, but it's really because they thought they'd get better and quicker results for their citizens. Bigger orders and profiles for the vacinne producing states and quicker deliveries and rollouts for those who were not.

    What the EU is afraid of is that they might, now, make a different calculation next time rather than always assuming More Europe delivers better outcomes.

    No, that's not how it came about. It was unhappiness from the smaller countries, led by Belgium, at the outline heads of a deal that Germany (in consortium with France, Italy and Netherlands) secured with Astrazeneca back in June 2020 for 300 million doses for the four countries that led, at Germany's suggestion, to the procurement process being passed over to the EU. Big mistake by Germany, but it was done for solidarity, not cost. The consequence was that the EU had to start from scratch last summer, and co-ordinate the 27 participants each of which held the decision-making power and, critically, the budget.

    They would have been better off had the EU had the authority and budget to have launched and managed the process from the outset.
    The mood music from Brussels was that by leveraging the buying power of the whole EU, they were getting better prices. So it may have been seen as a side benefit of solidarity?
    For sure. And if we finish this year with Europe all vaccinated, and our death rate still significantly higher than other European countries and with a much bigger bill for our share of the vaccine production, who is to say, in the round, that they weren't right?

    The key point however is that Germany proposed the EU-wide process as one of solidarity to resolve a dispute because they were already out in front in what looked like becoming a competition between individual countries. For the EU as a whole, it clearly makes sense to co-ordinate rollout to vulnerable countries in parallel (rather than ending up, say, with the Netherlands mostly vaccinated and Belgium much less so). They lost out because the delay in re-starting allowed the UK to steal a march (when did we secure our outline deal with AZN?) and because trying to balance the interests of countries like Italy and France that were suffering badly wit those like Portugal and the Czech Republic, that escaped the worst of the first wave and imagined the virus might be gone, was always going to be cumbersome and difficult.
    If Belgium were falling behind then the correct answer would be for Belgian politicians to get their arse in gear and sort out their own vaccine supply, not drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

    The great European myth that "solidarity" means bigger means better supply has been exposed as untrue. The idea being claimed was that working alone small countries wouldn't have been able to get vaccine supplies but that is categorically untrue - if you look at the list of countries that are doing better than the European Union is now then besides the US and the UK it is primarily a "who's who" of wealthy small countries. There was no reason that Belgium and other wealthy European small countries couldn't have initiated their own contracts on their own.
    Fine, but it is pretty much a zero-sum game, as I said, and for Europe as a whole the final death rate will be lower if vulnerable (older) people are prioritised across the continent, rather than having some countries working through younger people while older people in the country next door are left waiting.

    Precisely the same reason we are attempting to keep progress of our own programme running broadly in parallel across the nations and regions of the UK, rather than allowing those that prove to be better managed and organised to run too far ahead.
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