Press TV, Brussels
The European Commission announces plans to establish an emergency response agency after failing to deal with COVID-19. Critics, including many of EU lawmakers, say the six-billion-euro price tag for the new authority cannot be justified.
By the European Commission's own admission, the EU failed miserably to react when COVID-19 took hold in the 27-country bloc. In March last year it was left to Russia, yes Russia, to fly in medical supplies to the worst hit nation at the time, Italy. This, as neighboring EU countries closed their borders while Rome cried out for help.
HERA is the Health Emergency Response Authority, a new €6bn agency just unveiled by the European Commission. At the launch EU Commissioner Margaritis Schinas was attempting to big things up: "Europe is the most vaccinated country in the world."
Aside from calling the EU a country, people might be forgiven for thinking the EU had illegally annexed the 17 European countries that are not in the EU.
HERA is going to cost €1bn per year for the next six years. Yet another big bill for taxpayers. Some EU lawmakers are wondering if it will work. After all, EU agencies never got to grips with the 2008 financial crisis or the 2015 refugee crisis.
Activists claim the €6bn would be better spent taking in desperate Afghan refugees. They say EU countries helped to create this latest refugee crisis but are now closing their borders.
Regarding HERA, the point has also been made that the EU is inviting new health crises to the bloc by not sharing its huge stockpile of vaccines to poorer countries, mitigating the risk of new COVID-19 variants.