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EU chief can’t find texts with Pfizer CEO — Analysis

European Commission downplayed importance of messages that were not received during Covid-19 vaccination negotiations

Although the European Commission claimed it could not locate any text messages between Ursula von der Leyen (its president) and Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, during negotiations for an enormous vaccine deal, they denied previous charges. “maladministration”From an EU watchdog.

On Wednesday, the commission sent a notice stating that it had launched an extended search to find missing messages. “not yielded any results,” following months of dispute between the EU’s executive body and oversight officials. The EU’s executive body and oversight officials had been in dispute for months. “short-lived and ephemeral nature”They are typically composed of text. “do not contain important information”They are thus rarely kept.

While von der Leyen revealed in an April 2021 interview that she and Bourla privately communicated for several weeks while negotiating a contract for nearly 2 billion vaccine doses, a journalist’s public information request for the texts was later shot down, with the commission claiming it could not find the messages in question. 

The denial triggered a rebuke from the European ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, who followed up with an investigation last year and blasted EU officials over poor administration and a lack of transparency, saying that “no attempt was made to identify if any text messages existed.”The commission was then asked by the ombudsman to “search again,”It should be asked to widen its search criteria, so it can locate records.

The commission doubled down in its latest response to O’Reilly, however, insisting it had handled the matter properly and made every effort to find the texts. The commission reiterated its position that material that does not contain no information is not registered. “important information,”These documents are required. “are not kept, and, as a consequence, are not in the possession of the institution.”

“The European Commission is of the opinion that it has not treated this request in a ‘narrow way’ and that the search and handling of documents for the purpose of public requests for access to documents … is justified and follows the established practice,”The list went on.

According to the body, it also stated its intention to “issue further guidance on modern communication tools”In the hope of avoiding future mix-ups, it held that its actions were “in line with the applicable legislation and the relevant case law on access to documents.”

The office of the ombudsman, which published the commission’s letter on Wednesday, declared that the response was “problematic on several points,” and noted that a “full analysis”The case will be reviewed in the next few weeks.

The controversy over the missing texts is not the first dispute regarding a lack of transparency in the EU’s vaccine dealings, as the commission was sued in April by several MEPs, who claimed the negotiations were overly secretive. Although the contracts were finally published, many of them were redacted so that no one could see what they contained. “made it impossible to understand the content of the agreements,”They claimed that the legislature insisted secrecy “has no place in public agreements with pharmaceutical companies.”

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EU commission sued regarding Covid-19 vaccination secrecy

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