The EU is plagued with divisions. Covid-19 vaccines are a golden chance to redeem the European project
Updated 7:50 AM ET, Mon December 21, 2020
(CNN)In the name of "science and solidarity," the European Commission has secured over 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines for the bloc since June.
Now, as European Union regulators edge closer to approving two of those vaccines, the commission is asking its 27 nations to get ready to work together to roll them out.
If it all goes to plan, the EU's vaccine program could go down as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the European project.
The EU has suffered a sustained battering in recent years, fueled by the UK's departure, a surge in nationalist parties, and Euroskeptic attitudes across the continent.
And so far, the coronavirus crisis has only exacerbated existing tensions.
Early in the pandemic, a messy bidding war for personal protective equipment raged between member states, before the commission established a joint procurement program to stop it.
In July, the bloc spent days battling over the terms of a landmark €750bn (US $909bn) coronavirus recovery fund, a bailout scheme that links payouts with adherence to the rule-of-law and the upholding of democratic ideals, including an independent judiciary. Hungary and Poland vetoed the deal in November, forcing the bloc to broker a compromise, which was agreed last week.
And in the fall, member states spent more than a month squabbling over the commission's proposal to streamline travel guidelines around quarantine and testing.
But when it comes to the EU's vaccine strategy, all member states -- along with Norway and Iceland -- have jumped on board, marking a step toward greater European unity.
The commission says its aim is to ensure equitable access to a coronavirus vaccine across the EU -- and given that the virus knows no borders, it is crucial that countries across the bloc cooperate and coordinate.
But a collective approach will be no small feat for a region that encompasses disparate socio-political landscapes as well as w