Pfizergate: European Public Prosecution Service takes over investigation into Von der Leyen

Pfizergate: European Public Prosecution Service takes over investigation into Von der Leyen
Pfizergate: European Public Prosecution Service takes over investigation into Von der Leyen
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Will Ursula von der Leyen still get into trouble for purchasing Pfizer vaccines? The investigation, which was opened in our country last year, has recently been taken over by the European Public Prosecution Service, news website Politico reports. This seems to put an end to ‘Pfizergate’ after all.

The case revolves around the realization of the mega deal between Pfizer and the European Commission, which signed a contract for 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer corona vaccine in April 2021. Commission Chairman Von der Leyen is said to have negotiated this personally, by text message, with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. So without participation from the Member States, and without the involvement of the permanent team that was set up for the negotiations on vaccines. A highly unusual method, about which Von der Leyen has so far refused to clarify.

Undiscoverable text messages

The newspaper The New York Times – where Von der Leyen herself bragged about her role in the deal and the relationship with Bourla – requested access to the contacts, but was denied the request. The text messages in question? Unfindable, as it turned out. This course of events led to fierce criticism from the European Court of Auditors and the European Ombudsman, who plainly spoke of “mismanagement”. The European Parliament also asked for clarity in vain.

An investigation into possible mismanagement in a deal reportedly worth around 20 billion euros could be without Von der Leyen like a toothache

At the beginning of last year, a complaint was finally filed with the Liège public prosecutor’s office. In recent months, that case was taken over by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), an independent body with far-reaching powers to investigate, among other things, financial corruption. In principle, the EPPO can, for example, seize mobile telephones.

Headache file

The new phase in Pfizergate comes at an unpleasant time for Von der Leyen. The former German Minister of Defense is seeking full support in European capitals for a second term as Commission President. A European investigation into possible mismanagement in a deal reportedly worth around 20 billion euros can therefore be a pain in the ass for Von der Leyen.

The agreement with Pfizer was announced with great pride three years ago, but since then the whole matter has become a headache for Von der Leyen and the European Parliament. Promises were made in the contract about future purchases of the vaccine, but these later turned out to be no longer necessary. Last year it turned out that at least 4 billion worth of vaccines were thrown away.

According to Politico, two member states also filed a complaint about the contacts between Von der Leyen and Bourla: Hungary and Poland. That’s no coincidence. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Polish colleague Mateusz Morawiecki were both criticized by the Commission for eroding the rule of law in their own country. Morawiecki has since been succeeded by the pro-European Donald Tusk, and Poland has reportedly withdrawn from Pfizergate.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Pfizergate European Public Prosecution Service takes investigation Von der Leyen

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