An official EU watchdog on Friday slammed European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for conserving secret textual content messages with Pfizer’s CEO about buying Covid vaccine doses, saying it “constituted maladministration”.
The EU ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, issued a proper suggestion telling von der Leyen’s workplace to seek for and hand over the texts underneath a freedom of data request lodged by a journalist.
Von der Leyen’s Commission spearheaded the pre-purchase of Covid vaccines for the 27 EU nations.
More than half the 4.2 billion doses the fee has purchased or optioned are sourced from BioNTech-Pfizer, making it by far the largest provider to the bloc’s inoculation efforts.
The fee refuses to reveal key points of its contracts with Covid vaccine suppliers, notably on pricing, citing industrial confidentiality.
Von der Leyen’s lively public position in making certain vaccine entry included one-on-one conversations with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, a twin Greek-American.
Her fee rebuffed a freedom-of-information request final 12 months for the textual content messages, refusing to say whether or not the texts existed — despite the fact that von der Leyen had referred to them herself in a media interview.
It argued to the ombudsman’s service that it was solely obligated at hand over archived paperwork and that textual content messages or different types of prompt messages didn’t qualify, being “short-lived” and unlikely to “contain in principle important information” on its insurance policies, actions or selections.
The ombudsman strongly disagreed, saying in her suggestion “it is clear that text messages fall within the scope of the EU’s law on public access to documents” and that EU case-law upholds the responsibility by EU establishments to retain documentation associated to its actions.
“The case concerns whether, if the messages concern the commission’s work and if it holds them, the commission should have granted public access to them. How the commission dealt with this matter did not allow those questions to be answered. The ombudsman considers that this constituted maladministration,” it mentioned.
The ombudsman mentioned the fee ought to ask von der Leyen’s workplace to look once more for the texts, and if it discovered them, “the commission should assess whether public access can be granted to them” according to EU guidelines.
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