EU Commissioner Under Pressure To Release Secret Texts With Pfizer CEO

During the pandemic and just before the European Union (EU) purchased Pfizer vaccines, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was secretly communicating with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. The public, however, demands that the details of their conversation be made public in the spirit of transparency.

Nearly two billion doses of Pfizer vaccines were purchased from the company, representing the EU’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine contract. The size of the transaction and the fact that the taxpayer’s money financed the deal means the quest for answers will likely continue for a while.

Von der Leyen reportedly texted Pfizer’s CEO before the deal was struck. 

Author, former journalist and EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said the Commission must inform the public of what happened. She added that the public’s push for answers will only grow stronger if their curiosity is not satisfied.

O’Reilly, who noted the EU’s public prosecutor’s investigation of the bloc’s acquisition of vaccines and the European parliament’s COVID committee had scheduled more meetings to hold hearings on the issue, said questions surrounding the text message won’t go away.

Specific percentages of the European population were against the vaccine. O’Reilly believes the EU Commissioner’s hesitation in heeding public demands may justify a hidden agenda narrative.

Von der Leyen text messages to Pfizer CEO ‘should be released’, says EU ombudsman

Von der Leyen’s admission, in an interview with the New York Times in 2021, that she had exchanged texts with the Pfizer chief while negotiations were ongoing was the issue’s genesis. The pressure to provide their communication details continues to increase and according to O’Reilly, that pressure is not disappearing anything soon.

O’Reilly said the EU Commissioner declined her request to publish the text messages back in 2021. O’Reilly added that the secrecy only fuels suspicion.

Last June, the Commission replied to the public’s curiosity that it no longer had details of the text, much to the criticism of many. A Commission spokesperson revealed that they had concluded last June and informed O’Reilly that text messages could not be regarded as an EU document eligible for freedom of information requests under transparency rules.

“In an effort to ensure greater certainty, the Commission is working on issuing guidance on modern communication tools such as text and instant messages. It has proposed to other EU institutions that they do the same, the spokesperson said in reaction to the situation.

The matter may indeed not go away. In February, the New York Times sued the Commission for refusing to provide details of the commissioner’s text memoranda during the negotiations.


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