Angela Merkel 'stuck to EU rules' on vaccine rollout says expert
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The leader of Bavaria, Marcus Soder, reminded Mr Scholz he is not the Chancellor in a furious row over coronavirus measures for the country, according to German press. The pair clashed at a summit between federal and state governments.
After nine hours of tough negotiations, all parties agreed to relax some lockdown measures but the agreement was not short of heated arguments.
According to German newspaper Tagesspiegel, Mr Soder, leader of the Christian Social Union party (CSU) and Mr Scholz, vice chancellor and leader of Social Democratic Party of Germany, locked horns over federal states’ contribution to funds for the self-employed and small business leaders.
Mr Scholz only wanted to agree to partial contributions.
According to some present in the room, Mr Soder told Merkel’s number two: “What are you upset about, that’s not your money.”
To which Mr Scholz replied: “No, but it is the German taxpayers’ money that you want to dispose of so freely.”
The reply sparked the furious outburst of Mr Soder who blasted: “I don’t know what you had to drink, but you are not Chancellor here.
“You are not the King of Germany or the ruler of the world.”
“You don’t need to grin like a smurf.”
At the press conference after the deliberations, Mr Soder said of the dispute that Mr Scholz was “very pointed”.
After the difference of opinion, they spoke to each other again. “I don’t want to say we are one heart and one soul, but everything is fine now,” confirmed the CSU leader.
The hardship fund goes back to Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU).
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The fund is intended to help companies that do not exactly meet the previous auxiliary criteria or where special conditions in certain industries are not recorded. Despite the dispute, the fund was also decided by the Minister-President’s Conference, but further details are to be clarified on Monday.
Mrs Merkel and German state leaders eventually agreed on a phased easing of coronavirus curbs along with an “emergency brake” to let authorities reimpose restrictions if case numbers spike again.
With elections looming, the German Chancellor and the regional leaders have faced growing pressure to set out plans to restore normal activities after four months of lockdown.
However, daily cases are creeping up again and only around 5 percent of the population have received a first vaccine shot.
Mrs Merkel told reporters on Wednesday: “We are at the threshold of a new phase of the pandemic that we can go into not carelessly but still with justified hope.”
She too described the negotiations with the regional chiefs as “tough”.
The leaders agreed to use the full length of the approved interval between first and second vaccinations and to minimise stockpiling of booster shots to get more people started on the two-shot course.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends giving Pfizer and BioNTech’s injections three weeks apart and AstraZeneca’s up to 12 weeks apart.
They also said they expected a decision soon from Germany’s standing committee on vaccination on administering the AstraZeneca shot to over-65s, “in order to be able to adjust the vaccination schedule accordingly”.
Germany currently only allows the AstraZeneca vaccine to be given to people aged 18 to 64, which has led to a low take-up of available doses, slowing vaccination efforts.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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