EU falls behind China, US on vaccine donations: Document

The bloc has donated just 7.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

EU falls behind China, US on vaccine donations: Document

The EU has fallen significantly behind China and the U.S. in terms of coronavirus vaccine donations, according to an internal Council document seen by POLITICO Monday.

The EU has donated just 7.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines — 4 percent of the total 200 million pledged by EU countries. That compares with 59.8 million doses already donated by the U.S. and 24.2 million doses donated by China. The figures come from a Council working paper dated August 2. 

The document comes in the wake of comments from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who said last Friday that the bloc’s “insufficient” vaccine shipments to Africa and Latin America risked Europe losing influence to China. “China’s expansion in Africa and Latin America should concern us and should occupy us a great deal,” he said.

In clear evidence that the EU is keenly aware of the importance of vaccine diplomacy, a series of slides presented to EU ambassadors detail how China, Russia, the U.S. and the EU compare on vaccine distribution around the globe. 

The document maps out purchase agreements and donations, as well noting which regions are most strategically important to the EU, with highly detailed slides on vaccines delivered to North Africa, Turkey, the Balkans and the Eastern Partnership countries. These slides include information such as where the delivery came from, which vaccines they were and what percentage of the population in these countries is vaccinated. 

The EU’s international vaccine distribution is more robust in terms of exports, however, with more than 503 million vaccines sent to 51 countries, most of which are wealthier economies. The EU also cites the fact that it has pledged €3.4 billion to COVAX.

Russia, which widely publicized its Sputnik vaccine deliveries, has struggled to send large quantities: 65 countries have ordered more than 900 million doses, but so far only 30 million have been delivered. Another 345,000 doses have been donated to 13 countries. 

China has delivered substantially more than the EU. Of the 1 billion doses of Chinese vaccines purchased, over 390 million doses have been delivered to 94 countries. However, its 24.2 million donated doses are a tiny fraction of the total doses of Chinese jabs sold.

The U.S., which hoarded doses earlier this year, was able to catch up by donating 59.8 million doses, 37.1 million of which went through COVAX, on top of giving €3.3 billion to COVAX. The country will also donate another 20 million doses next week, and another 500 million doses by the end of 2022, the Commission wrote.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Why Central and Eastern Europe should be cheering on Nord Stream 2

Though the US has prioritized its relationship with Germany, the gas pipeline could still prove beneficial to the region.

Why Central and Eastern Europe should be cheering on Nord Stream 2

Dr. John R. Deni is a research professor at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the author of “Coalition of the unWilling and unAble: European Realignment and the Future of American Geopolitics.”

By reaching an agreement on the completion of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Washington appears to have favored its relationship with Berlin at the expense of its allies and partners to the east. Unsurprisingly, Central and Eastern European countries have been rattled by the move. Their concerns are valid. But paradoxically, the agreement could ultimately strengthen security in the region.

The agreement announced by U.S. and German negotiators last month marks the end of American efforts to block the pipeline. From Washington’s perspective, it amounts to a successful salvage operation: It’s likely Nord Stream 2 would have been completed despite American obstructionism. And by allowing the pipeline to be completed, the U.S. obtained some important commitments from Germany and took a major step toward restoring their relationship.

In exchange, Germany has committed to investing in alternative energy infrastructure in Ukraine, reimbursing the country for lost gas transit fees, helping Kyiv negotiate an extension of its gas transit contract with Moscow and pursuing sanctions against Russia if it uses oil and gas exports to Ukraine as political leverage.

Despite these commitments, Central and Eastern European allies are justifiably angered by the agreement. With good reason, they view Nord Stream 2 as a geopolitical weapon rather than a “purely commercial” project, as Russia’s Vladimir Putin maintains. Poland and the Baltic countries remain convinced the pipeline will facilitate even more aggressive behavior from Russia. And Kyiv fears that lack of Russian gas transiting its territory en route to high-paying customers in Europe will embolden Moscow.

It’s easy to see why Central and Eastern European governments think the United States has favored its relationship with Germany over them. And to some degree, they aren’t far off the mark.

Over the last decade, Germany has become the lynchpin of American security and foreign policy in Europe. Politically and economically, Germany is first among equals in Europe, with greater soft power than France, the United Kingdom, Italy or any other European country.

Despite the pandemic-induced recession, Germany supersedes all its neighbors in terms of long-term economic growth prospects. Policy choices made over the last decade and the willingness of German businesses to embrace — more so than virtually all other countries in Europe — advanced information technology, roboticization and other aspects of the fourth industrial revolution have placed it on a trajectory of improving productivity over the next decade.

Of course, Germany’s military capabilities and capacity still pale in comparison to France and the U.K. But this is likely to change over time as Berlin continues to expand its defense budget, while Paris and London face comparatively more challenging fiscal circumstances.

More importantly, however, for Washington, the Nord Stream 2 agreement removes a major impediment to an ever-closer international security partnership with Berlin.

The great power competition unfolding between the U.S. on the one hand and Russia and China on the other is most likely to manifest itself in hybrid terms — involving political, diplomatic, economic, informational and military challenges, below the level of tanks crossing borders. That means that a close partnership between Washington and Berlin is likely to pay long-term dividends to the benefit of not only Germany and the U.S. but Central and Eastern Europe as well.

These countries, compelled by geography to navigate a path between Germany and Russia, need Germany firmly grounded in the West — and the Nord Stream 2 arrangement will help make sure it remains so. The alternative, Washington’s unilateral sanctions on German businesses, only strengthened the voices of those in Berlin who favor a more ambivalent German policy toward great power competition — one that pursues an equal distance between the U.S. and Russia.

Furthermore, Russia is likely to never make use of Nord Stream 2’s full capacity; climate change and long-term trends in energy consumption across Europe away from fossil fuels and toward renewables will make sure of that. Over time, declining Russian gas sales in Europe will eventually reduce Ukraine’s role as an energy transit country in any case.

The Nord Stream 2 agreement won’t end Berlin’s pursuit of a special relationship with Moscow. Its political elites remain convinced that European security can only be achieved with Russia, not against it, and that interdependence with Russia benefits the West. But the agreement nonetheless represents a win for Washington, insofar as it has garnered commitments from Berlin that otherwise wouldn’t have been made.

And ultimately, as long as it helps ensure the powerful country to their West remains firmly anchored there, Central and Eastern European countries will also benefit from this agreement.

Source : Politico EU More   

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