Dave Keating Profile picture
Mar 19, 2021 17 tweets 5 min read Read on X
I keep seeing the line 'EU is having vaccine problems because it was too slow in negotiating contracts' repeated in 🇬🇧&🇺🇸 media.

I want to push back on this narrative because I think it's missing where real EU-level mistakes lie. Let's review what happened in past year (🧵1/17)
AstraZeneca signed purchasing agreement with EU one day before its agreement with UK.

AZ CEO told an EP hearing last month that UK priority comes from research funding agreement Oxford signed with UK gov in Jan/Feb 2020, inherited by AZ when it partnered with Oxford in May 2020.
🇬🇧 was smart to start funding vax research before #Covid19 even hit Europe. But they made a consequential choice by (apparently) making funding conditional to Brits getting doses of any resulting vaccine 1st.

🇩🇪 funded BioNTech but did not include any Europe 1st clause.
Meanwhile in March 2020, President Trump tried unsuccessfully to steal BioNTech from Germany to bring it to the US.

Despite this warning, apparently nobody in EU thought it might be a bad idea for BioNTech to be partnered with Pfizer, an American company.
politico.eu/article/german…
That 🇩🇪 nationality-agnostic approach to pharma partners was not the approach used across the channel in 🇬🇧.

Oxford was originally going to partner with American company Merck. But the UK gov overruled it and made them partner with UK-based AstraZeneca.
news.sky.com/story/covid-19… Image
The 🇬🇧 concern over 🇺🇸 vaccine nationalism turned out to be well-founded.

With BioNTech-Pfizer partnership secure, Trump seemed to be in no hurry to sign Pfizer purchase contracts.

Why? He knew a US vaccine export ban would make a contract unnecessary.
theguardian.com/world/2020/dec…
Pfizer has massive production capacity in the US. If US law prevented any of those doses made on US soil from being exported, they would have to go to the US in any event.

The result can be seen in the supply chain. 🇺🇸 plants used to supply 🇺🇸, 🇪🇺 plants used to supply 🌍.
Sure enough, Trump signed an executive order in December 2020 giving Americans 1st priority to any vaccines made on US territory.

In fact it was largely symbolic. Trump & Biden have instead used the Defence Production Act as the legal basis for their ban. presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/exec…
Also in December 2020, the UK & US used the emergency use authorisation method to approve Pfizer, while the EU used the more cautious conditional marketing approval method, resulting in EU approving 2-3 weeks later.

UK gave emergency use approval to AstraZeneca on 30 December.
When 🇪🇺 gave conditional marketing approval to AstraZeneca on 29 Jan, the company informed EU it would not be meeting original dosage delivery promise because of production problems in EU plant. Seems doses to be reserved for 🇪🇺 had gone to 🇬🇧

The battle between EU & AZ began
The Commission said AZ signed a contract saying it would use all 4 of its production facilities, 2 in UK and 2 in EU, to deliver to EU - so the shortfall should be made up with exports from the UK.

AZ's CEO said they couldn't because of a 'UK 1st' clause.
repubblica.it/cronaca/2021/0…
That battle has raged on without resolution. AZ will only deliver 30m out of promised 80m for Q1 and 70m of promised 180m in Q2, EC says.

Meanwhile EU has exported 10m (mostly Pfizer) doses to UK, while 'UK 1st' clause stops AZ from meeting EU delivery promise from UK plants.
Across the pond, the US export ban has meant 🇨🇦,🇲🇽&🇯🇵 have to get their Pfizer doses from EU plants instead. (🇪🇺 has exported 4.6m doses to 🇨🇦, 3.8m to 🇲🇽, 4m to 🇯🇵)

Situation particularly absurd for 🇨🇦, which must get its Pfizer from Belgium instead of next door in Michigan.
Even US has received vaccine exports from EU: 1 million in February, and 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson a few weeks ago according to the NYT.

J&J doses made in US can't go to EU.

Overall it appears EU has exported half the doses made here. nytimes.com/2021/02/28/wor… Image
These export numbers were revealed last week and Europeans were furious.

In was in this context President Von Der Leyen said on Wednesday the EU is considering an export ban to vaccine-producing countries who don't reciprocate.

Germany, France and Italy are pushing this idea.
What mistakes did EU make? To me it seems obvious.

🇪🇺 took decisions based on an assumption of a free market and good faith from its partners. They didn’t think forcing an EU partner on BioNTech was essential, or EU plants should be for Europeans 1st.

That now appears naive.
EU assumed good behavior. US & UK manoeuvred to benefit themselves.

Many EU countries flubbed vaccine rollouts. EU negotiations & approval maybe took too long.

But what's striking is, for many in US & UK there seems to be 1 set of rules for them and another for everyone else.

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More from @DaveKeating

Aug 3, 2023
Allow me a little #CrossBorderRail rant.

Barcelona-Brussels should be an appealing train route. At 9 hours it's a little over the cusp of what people are willing to endure, but it's doable.

However the lack of cooperation between 🇫🇷&🇪🇸 makes it very difficult. 🧵1/6 Image
There are 2 ways to do it in 9 hours:

🚄1: 🇫🇷TGV BCN-PAR, 🇧🇪Thalys PAR-BXL €288
🚄2: 🇪🇸Renfe BCN-Lyon, 🇫🇷TGV Lyon-BXL €181

The problem with the first option is you need to take the metro between train stations in Paris to switch, whereas in Lyon it's the same station

But...
🇪🇸Renfe & 🇫🇷SNCF don't have a ticketing agreement, so there's no way to get the preferred option as a combined ticket.

It doesn't show up on either website (Renfe won't even let you choose Brussels as a destination). Even 3rd party sites like SNCB Intl & Trainline can't show it
Read 10 tweets
May 9, 2023
Tonight is the first semi-final for #Eurovision2023 in 🇬🇧Liverpool.

It's happening on the 25th anniversary of the 1998 contest hosted in 🇬🇧Birmingham, a transformative year that marks the boundary between the 'old' and 'new' Eurovision.
In 1998 Dana International became the first trans (and 1st openly LGBT) person to win the ESC.

Following the '98 contest it was decided to make two major rule changes: countries no longer had to sing in their national language and they weren't required to use an orchestra.
Those changes transformed what had become a stale archaic-looking contest in '90s into the explosion of spectacle in 2000s - helped also by the entry of enthusiastic Eastern European countries unable to participate during Communism.

Birmingham was the last show of the old guard.
Read 6 tweets
May 8, 2023
It's #Eurovision week!

Yesterday the delegations arrived on the #TurquoiseCarpet, and tomorrow night the first semi-final will air around the world.

As promised, here's a thread about this year's acts. 🧵1/17
youtube.com/live/2M0DtRFx3…
The bookies have 🇸🇪Sweden as the favourite to win, followed by 🇫🇮Finland and 🇫🇷France.

But Sweden's odds have gotten worse since rehearsals started.

The singer, #Loreen, already won for 🇸🇪 in 2012 with Euphoria, a global hit hitting number one on the charts in 21 countries. Image
Among fans, I keep hearing "I predict Sweden will win but I don't want it to win". People like the song but think a 🇸🇪win is too predictable. 🇸🇪has dominated the contest for 2 decades.

If 🇸🇪win again they'll match Ireland's record for most wins - 7.
Read 17 tweets
May 6, 2023
As the 🇬🇧#Coronation takes place in London, here's some fun facts about monarchies around the world.

I find Americans have the mistaken impression that Europe has many monarchies. In fact, excluding microstates, there are just 8 - and only 3 have been there more than 200 years. Image
There are actually more monarchies in Asia than in Europe.

The world has 16 kings, and only one queen (🇩🇰). Then there are 4 princes, 3 sultans, 2 emirs, 1 pope and 1 emperor (🇯🇵). Image
There are 4 types of monarchies remaining in Europe:

🇬🇧British
🇸🇪🇩🇰🇳🇴Scandinavian
🇳🇱🇧🇪🇱🇺Low Countries
🇪🇸Iberian
🇻🇦🇱🇮🇦🇩🇲🇨Microstates

This map shows when other European monarchies ended (most give the year of national independence from a imperial monarchy) Image
Read 10 tweets
May 5, 2023
In 2 days, #Eurovision2023 week begins in Liverpool with delegations arriving on the #TurquoiseCarpet

Surely the most important thing happening in🇬🇧this weekend😉

I'll be there covering. Here's the mother of all threads on the most important things to know for this year. 🧵1/23 Image
The context: Despite what many think (Europeans' cultural cringe and all), #Eurovision is a big deal.

It's the most-watched annual live event in the world, with an average 200m viewers each year. That's more than the 🇺🇸Superbowl, Oscars & Grammys combined en.as.com/en/2022/03/14/…
Each year 40,000 visitors descend on the #Eurovision host city.

🇬🇧Liverpool is hosting this year. They've built a fan zone holding 15,000 people. There will be 9 shows over the week (televised: 2 semis & 1 final).

The 54,000 tickets sold out in an hour. citymonitor.ai/neighbourhoods…
Read 23 tweets
May 4, 2023
It seems Salvini is jealously eyeing Meloni's centrist rebranding and he wants in on the action. She is also reportedly thinking to link with EPP.

Question: Is Europe's far-right becoming more centrist, or is Manfred Weber's #EPP becoming more far-right? euractiv.com/section/politi…
One thing is clear: whatever power Marine Le Pen previously had among the European far right has evaporated.

Far-right parties want to distance themselves from 🇫🇷#LePen, seeing her as a loser and 🇮🇹#Meloni as a winner.

Meloni has momentum on the European stage.
Meanwhile, the Tories’ decade-long romance of the EU’s far right is coming to a crescendo this month with the yearly Nat Con conference being hosted in London.

National Conservatism is a rebranding of the Trumpist far right designed to lure the center. nationalconservatism.org/natcon-uk-2023…
Read 4 tweets

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