Martin Selmayr’s EU vaccine boast backfires

Martin Selmayr's EU vaccine boast backfires
Martin Selmayr, and his former boss (Getty images)
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In the aftermath of the EU's vaccine bungle, Brussels remains in damage limitation mode, determined to ensure that someone else gets the blame for its own crisis. But Mr S wonders whether top EU diplomat Martin Selmayr's bid to put a positive spin on what has unfolded over the last few days was really so wise.

Selmayr, who revelled in his nickname 'the Rasputin of Brussels' during his time serving as Jean-Claude Juncker's aide, attempted to make a comparison between Europe's vaccine rollout rate and that of Africa, the poorest continent on Earth. Selmayr, who now serves as the EU Commission representative in Austria, wrote:

'The EU, thanks to the joint work of 27 governments, EU Commission, researchers and companies vaccinated 12 million people in 3 weeks. 128 countries have not yet started vaccinating, e.g. Japan, South Africa. In Africa only 20,000 people have been vaccinated so far.'

It wasn't long before Selmayr's tweet backfired, with people pointing out that in many countries in Africa, vaccination programmes are having to wait while richer countries, including many of those in the EU, get a head start. When a Brussels' based journalist pointed out exactly that, accusing Selmayr of making a crass comparison and 'self-owning Brussels' style, Selmayr hit back, saying he misunderstood. 'The EU wants that everybody can be vaccinated,' he wrote.

Another fine day for EU diplomacy...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike