Despite concerns raised elsewhere, Ireland shows highest approval for EU’s pandemic response – dpa international


Street in Castlebar in Ireland, the week after the end of the country's second lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

Street in Castlebar in Ireland, the week after the end of the country’s second lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN  – Over 70 per cent of Irish people back the European Union’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic and  vaccination roll-out, the highest rating of any of the bloc’s 27 member states, according to a new EU survey.
The European Commission office in Ireland said on Wednesday that the survey, which was carried out last month by Eurobarometer, a part of the Commission, showed “strong approval in Ireland for the way the EU has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Seventy-two per cent of the Irish surveyed said they were either “very satisfied” or “fairly satisfied” with “the way the EU has responded to the Covid-19.”
The average across the EU’s 450 million people was 44 per cent, with Czechs the least happy with the EU’s response. In Germany and France, the two most powerful member states, satisfaction with the EU’s response reached 45 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.
Forty-seven per cent of those surveyed in Italy – which was hardest-hit during the early stages of the pandemic and where critics of the EU are in government – said they were satisfied with the bloc’s response.
The pandemic survey findings tallied with a wider Eurobarometer survey from mid-2020, when 73 per cent of the Irish respondents said they “tend to trust” the EU, far above the 63 per cent reported in Denmark and 59 per cent in Lithuania, the two next highest levels of trust reported. Only 3 in 10 French, Greeks and Italians trusted the EU at the time, the survey showed.
The more recent pandemic survey was done from December 10 to 19, shortly after the Irish Government ended a second lockdown but when public anger was brewing elsewhere in the EU over the perceived slow roll-out of vaccines ahead of the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) eventual December 21 first approval of a jab, that manufactured by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
The UK, Ireland’s closest neighbour and until last year a member of the EU,  approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 2, making it the first Western country to approve any of the coronavirus jabs.
Ireland was one of five member-states where three-quarters or more of those surveyed “agree that the EU is playing a key role in ensuring access to Covid-19 vaccines in their countries.”
The survey showed majorities across the EU agreeing “that public authorities are not sufficiently transparent about Covid-19 vaccines” and that “vaccines are being developed, tested and authorised too quickly to be safe.”
Fear of Covid-19, the disease sometimes caused by the novel coronavirus, was highest in Ireland and in southern Europe, the survey showed.
The EMA has since approved a second vaccine manufactured by Moderna. On Tuesday the European Commission proposed a target of having 70 per cent of the bloc’s population vaccinated by September and 80 per cent of elderly and health care workers by March.
In a review of the EU’s initial response to the pandemic published on Monday,  the European Court of Auditors said the organisation faced “certain issues” in areas such as “facilitating provision of appropriate supplies in a crisis and supporting the development of vaccines.”
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