Britain vaccinated people faster against Covid than EU countries because it is free of Brussels's bureaucracy, the bloc's chief negotiator has admitted.
Michel Barnier, 70, said that ideology, red tape and an aversion to risk-taking led Europe to bungle its early vaccination drive - with just 24 per cent of the continent's population given at least one vaccine, compared to 50 per cent in the UK.
He said lesson should be learned from the current crisis, including whether more powers should be give to countries to make decisions independent of Brussels.
But he added that it is still 'too early to tell' which countries have coped best with the pandemic, and insisted there is little to be gained from games of 'one-upmanship'.
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Michel Barnier admitted today that red tape, ideology and an aversion to risk-taking within the EU had hurt the continent's vaccine roll-out
Speaking to France Inter, Mr Barnier said: 'I recognise that there were administrative problems, bureaucracy [within the EU].
'There was an almost ideological mistrust of public-private partnerships. We don’t know how to take risks.
'The British took risks by financing the private sector. The Americans took risks. We don’t know how to do that yet.'
He added that 'lessons' should be learned from the current crisis, including whether countries could be given more powers to act independently of Brussels in the future because independent nations are capable of moving quicker than blocs.
But he continued to insist that signing vaccine contracts outside the EU would have been a bad idea, because it would have meant smaller countries getting left behind.
'That is not, in my view, the philosophy of the EU,' he added.
Mr Barnier was speaking ahead of the release of his book - Le Grand Illusion - about four years spent negotiating with the UK government over Brexit.
He spoke at length about the upcoming election in France and Marine Le Pen's challenge to President Macron as she gains on him in the polls.
Barnier said he will be active during the campaign season, vowing to defeat Ms Le Pen, who he said is in league with Nigel Farage and Matteo Salvini - the Italian Lega Nord party leader - in trying to bring down the EU.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Europe has given just 25 per