EU leaders have concluded the first of a two-day virtual summit which was dominated by the bloc's highly controversial COVID-19 vaccination program. It was confirmed during the event that more vaccines have been exported from the EU than have been administered to the bloc's own inhabitants.
So, the EU's ban on vaccine exports, when deemed necessary, is going ahead but critics say the damage has already been done due to the European Commission's mismanagement to date. The leaders' summit was given official data showing just 4.1% of the EU's population have been fully vaccinated.
A third wave of the coronavirus is taking hold in the 27-nation bloc. Cases are spiking, most notably, in France, Poland, Italy and Germany. Infection rate increases are being recorded in several other EU nations, including here in Belgium.
This means hospital admissions are rising. More are being transferred to Intensive Care Units. The bottom line is people are dying due to the pace of the EU's vaccination rollout program.
There's economic disaster looming for millions of businesses in the EU as new lockdowns are announced. In some nations jobs are being lost at a record rate. The tourism industry is on its knees. Citizens are frustrated.
Critics say the health, social and economic consequences of the EU's failures during this crisis are not yet fully clear. Analysts warn there are likely to be dire political consequences for the establishment.