EU crumbling: Euroscepticism soaring in France after Macron’s Covid miscalculation- expert

EU express ‘concern’ over delays of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

And Dr Joseph Downing suggested the next year to 18 months will be crucial as France and other members of the EU27 keep tabs on the UK’s fortunes outside the bloc. Mr Macron is under pressure with the numbers of people who have had the jab currently well below that of many other countries.

As of Thursday, a league table published by Our World in Data indicated an inoculation rate of 0.6 per 100 people as of yesterday.

England’s rate was 5.6 – almost 10 times higher as of January 14, while in Israel the figure was 25.34, as of yesterday.

In total, also as of yesterday 388,370 people in France had had the vaccine in a country with a population of just over 65 million

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In the UK, the figure for January 14 was 3.68 million in a country with a population of 67.89 million.

Dr Downing, a fellow in nationalism at the London School of Economic’s European Institute, said: “I definitely think that going for some form of clinically unfounded vaccine rollout is politics and symbolism.

“And I think playing with symbolism at a time when people are not allowed to go to a restaurant because it is so dangerous is such miscalculation at a European level.

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“And I think it will be such a powerful thing for people to draw on when they want to make eurosceptic statements or draw on euroscepticism.

“A lot of euroscepticism is based on things which are less difficult to substantiate.”

Dr Downing added: “Inefficiency or bureaucratic red tape is a bit nebulous but this is something very specific that people can point on and say there is no clinical basis for this, and in Brussels they are making decisions based on symbolism at a time when people are dying.

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“A lot of this comes down to the shape of COVID recovery really.

“Certainly the suspension of the Schengen Agreement early on in the pandemic was an embarrassment for the EU, which was quite mocked.

“Unity on vaccine rollout is them trying to take the initiative, but I think in a very miscalculated way.

“Now I think so much of people’s feelings about euroscepticism is going to come down to the recovery.

“And if the EU is going to be seen as something which either facilitates or blocks the recovery.”

Dr Downing also suggested Brexit was also a major factor when it came to people assessing the performance of the EU

He explained: “The next 12 to 18 months is going to be really crucial – and also really crucial in comparison to how the UK does.

“That is something that is going to be something that people will have a close eye on in terms of how the UK is faring outside the EU when it comes of-post Covid recovery in terms of the states that remain in it.

“Paris will be watching London.”

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