EU Commission lambasted over Pfizer vaccine deal secrecy — Analysis

The European Ombudsman has criticized the manager physique for failing to publish texts despatched between its president, Ursula von der Leyen, and Pfizer’s CEO

The European Fee has been accused of “maladministration” by an EU watchdog after refusing to publish textual content messages that its president, Ursula von der Leyen, despatched to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla final 12 months throughout negotiations to clinch a Covid-19 vaccine deal. 

An inquiry by European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly on Friday criticized the EU govt physique for failing to ask von der Leyen’s workplace to seek for the texts. The discussions are thought to have helped safe some 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the bloc.

Final April, von der Leyen disclosed that she had exchanged texts and calls with Bourla for a month in the course of the negotiation. Nevertheless, the fee later responded to a journalist’s public entry request for the messages by claiming that it didn’t preserve a file of the texts and possessed solely an e mail, a letter, and a press launch on the topic.

Through the inquiry, it emerged that the fee had requested the president’s workplace to search for “paperwork” that fulfill its inside standards for file – texts don’t come underneath this definition. The physique had argued that its “record-keeping coverage would in precept exclude immediate messaging.” It instructed the inquiry that “so far, it has not recorded any textual content messages in its doc administration system.”

“The slim manner by which this public entry request was handled meant that no try was made to determine if any textual content messages existed,” O’Reilly mentioned in a press release. “This falls wanting cheap expectations of transparency and administrative requirements within the Fee.”

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Noting that this “amounted to maladministration,” the ombudsman requested the European Fee to verify as soon as extra for the related messages and to answer to the advice by April 26. She mentioned it was “not credible to assert” textual content messages don’t fall underneath EU transparency legal guidelines, including that if “textual content messages concern EU insurance policies and choices, they need to be handled as EU paperwork.”

A spokesman for the fee mentioned the physique had “taken observe” of the advice and would reply to the ombudsman by the deadline.

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