Vaccine rollout: Employers call for calm and say that the closing of borders is the wrong response

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The Employers’ group of the European Economic and Social Committee expresses serious concerns with the difficulties linked to the EU vaccine rollout programme and calls for a change of tone and action, comparable to the one we have seen in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

“It is understandable that tensions and frustrations would erupt over the slow coronavirus vaccine rollout and production delays, but we need to remain calm and continue to maintain a high level of solidarity, as we did last spring when we were first confronted with the emergency of the virus,” said Stefano Mallia, President of the Employers’ Group in the EESC.

Rather than engage in a blame game, the Employers’ Group would like to point towards the incredible results achieved in a very short span of time where through intensive research and collaboration among pharma companies, Member States and the European Commission, highly effective Covid-19 vaccines have been developed.

“Let’s not underestimate what has been achieved so far” Mallia said.

Instead, the Employers’ Group is urging the Commission and national governments to focus on doing what is needed to help increase the productive capacity of pharmaceutical companies in Europe to ensure that the rollout of more vaccine doses is accelerated. On this aspect, the Employers’ Group points towards the many actions of collaboration that are already taking place between pharma companies where a number of companies have made available their production facilities to produce vaccines of other companies.

Every day gained is many lives saved. No one is safe until everyone is safe. The quicker the rollout the quicker we can start to achieve some level of certainty which will in turn greatly assist the recovery of our economies from the devastation we are currently experiencing.

This is why the EU approach needs to continue to be based on EU solidarity amongst Member States and, equally important, in partnership with our neighbours and allies. In this regard, the Employers’ Group is against any restrictive action that deviates from free trade and resurrects borders. At the same time, it is crucial that our economy remains open,, ensuring actual coordination to return to a full and well-functioning EU internal market as soon as the sanitary situation allows it.

The Employers’ Group is firm in its conviction that protectionism is never the way forward and that any such action is likely to backfire and create new problems for the continued development and production of vaccines.

"We have achieved a lot in an incredibly difficult situation and we have achieved this through collaboration and solidarity. We should maintain and protect this approach as it is the one which will see us through this unprecedented crisis," said Mallia.