An occasional review of technology, markets, and ideas.

Theory vs. Practice: The Curious Case of the EU


The goals of the European Union are:

  • promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens
  • offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders
  • sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress, and environmental protection
  • combat social exclusion and discrimination
  • promote scientific and technological progress
  • enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries
  • respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity
  • establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.


Despite grandiloquent proclamations about the EU promoting the well-being of all citizens without internal borders, in March 2020, various European countries restricted exports on certain forms of medical equipment:

France, Germany and other countries have imposed limits on the export of protective medical equipment, some of which is badly needed but in short supply. Janez Lenarcic, the bloc’s top official for crisis management, said such bans were permitted under European treaties but hinted at a desire to have them removed. Member states should make sure that protective equipment is available across Europe, he said. Stella Kyriakides, the European Union health commissioner, put it in simple terms: “Solidarity is key.” – "E.U. Seeks Solidarity as Nations Restrict Medical Exports"

I guess there really are borders despite what the Schengen Agreement says...


By negotiating hard with vaccine producers, and by deploying the full firepower of the single market, European leaders wanted to show that it was they — not the pharmaceutical industry — that called the shots. – "Europe Failed Miserably With Vaccines. Of Course It Did."
the commission was very cautious in its approach, setting out to secure vaccines for a population of just under 448 million people with a total of 2.7 billion euros, or around $3.25 billion. By contrast Britain spent €4.3 billion, or $5.2 billion, to vaccinate a population of just over 66 million. On its own terms, the E.U.’s negotiations were successful: The E.U. paid substantially less than the United States for its doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca. – "Europe Failed Miserably With Vaccines. Of Course It Did."


When vaccine producers hit problems, Europe quickly found itself at the back of the line — while Israel, the United States and Britain, which had spent much more per capita on vaccines, enjoyed successful rollouts. Penny-pinching was a false economy: It delayed the rollout, allowing the virus to spread further and requiring more restrictions. "Europe Failed Miserably With Vaccines. Of Course It Did."

Life comes at you fast.

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Jamie Larson