Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will not be cross examined about the EU’s covid vaccine deal with Pfizer it has emerged.
The EU Parliament has decided not to hold a question and answer session about von der Leyen’s personal role in negotiating the multi billion euro deal in public, instead deciding that it will take place behind closed doors.
Last month MEPs leading the European Parliament’s COVID-19 committee announced their intentions to question the EU chief over issues related to the EU’s handling of the covid 19 pandemic, including allegations that von der Leyen had exchanged a number of text messages with Pfizer head, Albert Bourla, privately.
Last October, Bourla cancelled his appointment to give testimony to the European Union Covid Panel on the EU’s biggest ever vaccine deal.
Belgian MEP and head of the COVID-19 committee, Kathleen Van Brempt, said that the European Union has “spent a lot of public resources into the production and purchase of vaccines during the pandemic” and that the Parliament “has the right to obtain full transparency on the modalities of these expenditures and the preliminary negotiations leading up to them.”
Also last October The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) opened an investigation into the EU’s coronavirus vaccine purchase with special emphasis on von der Leyen’s personal role with EPPO saying that the “exceptional confirmation comes after the extremely high public interest” regarding the matter.
In January the EU’s ombudsman issued criticism over the EU’s failure to produce the text messages allegedly sent between von der Leyen and Bourla on the cusp of the vaccine deal.
It was reported that European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, “found that the Commission had not asked von der Leyen’s office to search for text messages”, despite them being specifically requested.
Items were requested which meet the Commission’s criteria for recording “documents” however this definition does extend to include text messages.
O’Reilly described the handling of the requests as tantamount to “maladministration”.
The New York Times wrote that von der Leyen and Bourla had been exchanging text messages and phone calls for “a month” prior to the purchase of 900 million vaccine doses.