In my 20 years in the European Parliament, I have often found it to be a secluded place. I would launch attack after attack against the very concept of the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, and for that I have received complaints, cold shoulders and sometimes abuse. Why? Because I was pretty much the only MEP who wanted to take a stand against this rotten system.
What infuriated Brussels workers was to point out that the Commission was filled with unelected politicians who had – at best – an uneven track record in domestic politics, but who suddenly wielded significant power over 500 million people. The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, is a good example. Its recent statement that Covid-19 vaccines should not be exported outside the EU without official permission tells you everything you need to know about how the bloc does business.
When Boris Johnson’s government decided that Britain would leave the European Medicines Agency in 2020 and therefore make its own public health decisions in the future, there was a chorus of disapproval from from Remainer’s usual suspects. They claimed that anti-EU dogma would endanger the lives of the British. So isn’t it fascinating how different reality is? Brexit Britain was the first Western country to approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine, with large orders placed some time ago. Granted, much of the UK government’s handling of the pandemic has been erratic to say the least, but the fact that 10% of the UK population has received the first Covid vaccine to date is commendable. It shows how much of a fleet of feet our nation can be now that it is free from the shackles of the EU.
Compare that with the 27 EU states. After a considerable amount of procrastination and delays so characteristic of bureaucratic machines such as the European Commission, the EU is now desperately trying to catch up. Germany only managed 2.1 doses per 100, the EU average is 1.9 and 1.7 in France. Other Member States, such as the Netherlands and Sweden, are even further behind. Judging by Germany’s seething tabloid press and nighttime riots in Dutch cities, EU citizens are not happy with their lords. Even more dangerous from Brussels’ point of view is that political instability in Italy could force general elections there this year. The Eurosceptic Lega party in Italy is expected to do very well in such an election, which will almost certainly put pressure on the European Commission. To make matters worse, the European Commission learned last week from pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca that it would cut the supply of its vaccine to the EU by 60% after production delays at its factory in Belgium.
It was against this tense backdrop that the virtually unknown Ms Kyriakides, a Cypriot psychologist turned politician, told Pfizer that the EU must be informed before any more shots reach Britain. His statement was intended to show EU citizens that their big brother in Brussels will take care of them. By passing what amounts to a nationalist decree that no exports to third countries will be allowed without prior approval, it may have achieved its goal at some point. But don’t doubt that she had in mind the relative success of the UK and the 3.5 million doses of vaccine that will soon be delivered here and that have been manufactured in Belgium. The fact that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has declared Britain’s willingness to help other EU countries tackle the Covid crisis does not appear to matter.
During his approval hearings to become commissioner, Kyriakides called for a uniform European approach to vaccine distribution, as opposed to a national approach. With the UK having made a successful national decision something had to be said of course. But by directly threatening the UK, this Commissioner has done more than anyone else to show the wicked, vindictive and nationalistic side of the EU. Everyone can now see their true colors.
This is a brilliant justification for our country’s decision in 2016 to leave the EU. As I said before, there are bad people in this bad organization who intend to build a new European empire no matter what the cost. But I believe it is high time the UK government went further and stopped tweeting its charming tale that the EU is a good institution that the UK is not suitable for. If we have learned anything from this crisis, it’s that the best decisions are made by national governments acting in their national interest. It is for this reason that I say that Europe must leave the European Union. All of us, who believe that the best decisions are made by national governments who are directly accountable to their constituents, must make this clear. With lives at stake, isn’t it our duty to do so?