Eurozone meltdown: EU vaccine crisis ‘delays’ bloc recovery, ECB warns – UK storms ahead
Macron slammed by French residents for slow EU vaccine rollout
The vaccination programme is five weeks behind schedule, according to experts, and the hold-up is expected to stunt economic growth as governments are forced to maintain lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus. ECB President Christine Lagarde warned Brussels that people are growing impatient while Britain is dishing out Covid vaccines almost five-times quicker than the bloc. In an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, she said: “We remain convinced that 2021 will be a recovery year.
“The economic recovery has been delayed, but not derailed. People are obviously waiting impatiently for it.”
The EU’s vaccine scheme has got off to a slow start, with only 3.6 percent of the bloc’s 450-million population receiving a dose.
In contrast, the UK has delivered jabs at a rate of more than 17 per 100 people, and the United States is also racing ahead on almost 12.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has taken personal charge of the roll-out, has faced calls to step down as a result of the delays.
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Analysts at German finance giant Allianz warned in a recent report that Europe was facing a “five-week delay on the vaccination front that, if left uncorrected, could cost close to €90 billion”.
The ECB fears the sluggish vaccine scheme and risk of mutant strains are forcing governments to maintain their economic shutdowns.
“That is what really matters for the recovery,” one insider told the FT.
Ms Lagarde also alluded to these concerns, adding: “We are not immune to unknown risks surfacing.”
The central banker called on Brussels to “speed up” the process of green-lighting national spending plans for the EU’s €750billion coronavirus recovery fund.
Cash from the unprecedented bailout package is not expected to be dished out to the worst-hit economies and industries until later this year while eurocrats pour over individual spending strategies from EU capitals.
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Ms Lagarde said: “You fight fire with fire.
“It’s better to act quickly, even if you might have to backtrack to correct things that may have gone wrong.”
The Eurozone economy slumped a record 6.8 percent last year and is not expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels until mid-2021.
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China has always managed to shake off the economic impact of COVID-19, growing 2.3 percent last year.
And the US economy is also expected to hit pre-pandemic levels by the middle of this year.
Erik Nielsen, chief economist at UniCredit, said he was “increasingly convinced that we are heading into another three-five years of European growth underperformance relative to the US”.
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