Is the EU Heading for a Political Crisis Caused by Covid Response?

The EU itself has lost a lot of credibility over its chaotic response to Covid, but will the EU's slow vaccine rollout also create a political backlash against member State governments?

The frustration felt due to the EU's shambolic vaccine rollout has been cited as the main reason for the losses suffered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat Party in two key regional elections on Monday. The German public is angered at the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Just like people in the UK, which has had some of the tightest lockdown restrictions in the world, the people of EU member States have seemingly had enough.

Whilst there have been protests against lockdowns across Europe, it is increasingly apparent that the quiet majority are highly dissatisfied at the slow Covid response from EU governments.

In Germany, on March 14, the 14-day average COVID-19 positive case numbers rose 26 percent and Europe overall has so far suffered around 990,000 Covid related deaths. There are also signs that the EU is facing a third wave of infections. If so, how will this play out in future elections?

Source: Reuters Graphics

Joan Benach, professor of Public and Occupational Health at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, told Al Jazeera:

“Rather than try to wipe out the virus altogether, here [in the EU] it’s been more about learning with it – toughening up restrictions when contagion numbers were high, lowering them again as they got better.

It’s a permanent game that won’t end until there’s mass vaccination, and that will take months, probably the entire year, to happen.”

Reuters data shows that whilst the United Kingdom infection and death rates are falling and that the UK is now at 10% of its highest peak and falling, the rest of the region may be heading for a third wave.

The difference the UK and the rest of Europe is the speed of the vaccine rollout. The UK announced yesterday that 26 million people, close to half of the entire population has been now been vaccinated.

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