The European Watchdog wants relevant text messages between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and “the top executive of a pharmaceutical company” to be revealed.


According to the Ombudsman, text messages are covered by the EU’s transparency law, and the public has a right to access relevant documents, including text messages.

The Ombudsman opened an investigation after a journalist asked the committee for the texts last May in response to an article in The New York Times about chat traffic between von der Leyen and Pfizer boss Albert Bourla. According to the newspaper, personal diplomacy played an important role in the deals to buy millions of Covid-19 vaccines for the EU. The committee had just signed a third contract with Pfizer for 1.8 billion doses.

According to the daily EU administration, text messages are secret and do not need to be kept. But the Ombudsman, the Irish Emily O’Reilly, does not quite agree with the committee. “Not all text messages must be saved, but they do fall under the transparency rules,” said O’Reilly on Friday. She believes that the EU administration should grow with the times and modern methods of communication. “It’s the content that matters, not the device or the form.”

Critics accuse the committee of secrecy surrounding the purchase of the corona vaccines. For example, it has not been made public how much the committee, acting on behalf of the EU member states, paid for the millions of doses ordered from various manufacturers, including Pfizer/BioNTech.

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