Austria and Denmark have become the latest countries to break away from the EU’s vaccines strategy, raising fears that the bloc’s unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic is crumbling. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Austria would work with Israel and Denmark on second generation coronavirus vaccines and “no longer rely on the EU in the future”. It is widely seen as a rebuke to the European Commission’s procurement scheme for vaccines, which has lagged far behind the UK, Israel and US, and involved negotiating for supplies as a bloc.
Mr Kurz told Bild, Germany’s biggest selling newspaper, that the European Medicines Agency had been “too slow” in approving the jabs.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen added she had already bid for supplies of Israel’s leftover vaccines in another sign of the disintegrating confidence in Brussels to deliver the jabs.
The pandemic, lockdown measures and the EU’s sluggish start of its vaccine rollout programme are undoubtedly exacerbating divisive trends in Europe.
Danish MEP Peter told Express.co.uk Denmark could hold a breakaway vote by as early as 2026, as his country watches Britain’s progress closely.
It is no secret Danish eurosceptics have been plotting on using the British Brexit deal as a blueprint to relaunch their own attempt to leave the European Union.
In 2018, Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl admitted his plans to quit the Brussels bloc were currently on hold as he was waiting for an “alternative” to membership.
Speaking at a gathering, Mr Thulesen Dahl told supporters of the party they were not aiming for an exit vote just yet.
He said: “We should not leave the EU right now.
“We do not propose to exit the EU without there being an alternative.
“When the British have made an agreement with the EU, there is such an alternative.”
Speaking to reporters after the speech in the southern Danish town of Sonderborg, Mr Thulesen Dahl added he could use the British deal to demand similar concessions for Denmark.
He added: “One option would be a looser relationship with the EU, one that mirrors what the British get.
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“I think this will greatly influence the behaviour of individual countries in the EU, particularly because there are some who do not like the policies pushed forward by France and Germany.”
He added: “The prime candidates for leaving the EU are Finland over the euro.
“Denmark has been rather aloof and doesn’t agree with many policies such as migration and it is not even part of the euro.
“The Netherlands is also rather discontent with the large subsidies for the eurozone.
“These are the most obvious.
“I can’t see Italy or Southern European countries leaving at least until they get their share of German money.”