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Vaccines: Thierry Breton, the European strategist – Coronavirus


If there is something that defines Thierry Breton, the Internal Market Commissioner, it is that he has no doubts. Whatever his functions, Minister of the Economy under Chirac, a major industrialist at France Telecom, then developer of the multinational Atos, professor at Harvard, then European Commissioner, he defines himself not as an optimist but as a realist. A pragmatic at least, who scrupulously respected the Maastricht criteria when he was in Bercy, with Villepin in Matignon, while he now advocates debt as part of the recovery plan by stressing that we must hurry. Especially since Joe Biden’s miracle plan has not yet been voted on by Congress. “We must understand its responsibilities, which are your constituents”, he confides between the pear and the cheese before adding: “We get our legitimacy from Parliament”.

As determined as Michel Barnier on Brexit

The man, who lived in the United States, says he found in Brussels the same state of mind as in the American system, except that he was not pushed to the federal stage. The health crisis made him understand that no country in the world could have had a vaccination policy like Europe. Where many praise Anglo-Saxon or Israeli efficiency, Thierry Breton underlines that “if Israel and the United States have done so well, it is because the beginning of the epidemic was dramatic at home”. And the commissioner added to the fact that four of the five vaccines that work have been discovered and funded in Europe. Do not expect the slightest mea culpa from him on the lack of responsiveness of Europe, which would have played small arms in the controls. Or criticism of Emmanuel Macron who did not believe that the vaccines would arrive so quickly and who called him to the rescue. Realizing that production capacities were in Europe and not in the UK or Russia, Thierry Breton, as determined as Michel Barnier on Brexit, put pressure on the export surveillance mechanism, forcing the triumphant Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who wanted to block the Commission, to come and beg for its second dose.

“We are not an island”

In turn, at the beginning of March, the European Commissioner visited the Netherlands and Italy. Then, in Hungary and Austria, where he explained to Viktor Orban, who was preparing to negotiate with the Russians, and Sebastian Kurz, with the Israelis, that Europe could do much better for their populations. Then, he continued his European tour in the Baltic States, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. So, Europe is certainly generous since it exports 40% of its vaccine capacities, unlike America. “We are not an island”, Breton soberly justifies himself, who considers that the best way to protect oneself is to vaccinate others as the Old Continent is open to all winds. “If I am fighting with so much energy, at my level, it is because vaccines, I know that it is the only solution and I do not want us to lose a second because, after mid-July , it’s the holidays and I would like everyone to be able to take some, ”he said before leaving… English style.

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