Should Ursula von der Leyen soon be in the dock for a vaccine deal?

Should Ursula von der Leyen soon be in the dock for a vaccine deal?
Should Ursula von der Leyen soon be in the dock for a vaccine deal?
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corona vaccines

Ursula von der Leyen. — © epa-efe

Ursula von der Leyen exchanged messages with the CEO of vaccine maker Pfizer. They continue to pursue her in a criminal investigation.

In 2021, in the midst of the corona crisis, the European Commission concluded a billion-dollar deal with vaccine manufacturers. Thanks to this mediation, all Europeans were vaccinated quickly and at a reasonable price. Pharmaceutical companies could also not play Member States apart in order to increase their profits. But during the negotiations there was a commotion about text messages that Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sent to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

The Commission claimed that the messages were of “small and short-lived importance” and were therefore removed. Opponents of vaccine policy, lobbyists working for other pharmaceutical companies and advocates of more transparency have criticized Von der Leyen in the context of ‘Pfizergate’.

Hungary is participating

Now reports Politico that the European Public Prosecutor (EPPO) will take over an investigation into Pfizergate from the Belgian justice system. The Liège public prosecutor’s office opened that investigation last year at the request of pharmaceutical lobbyist Frédéric Baldan. EPPO now examines for itself whether there is “interference with public office, destruction of messages, corruption or a conflict of interest”. EPPO was already investigating the vaccine contract in general last year.

EPPO’s move could result in ‘Pfizergate’ becoming a criminal offense. The European Ombudsman’s Office previously reprimanded Von der Leyen. While the ombudsman service monitors the ‘good behavior’ of directors, EPPO is a judicial body. He has the power to confiscate mobile phones or documents. It is important that Von der Leyen has not yet been officially charged.

There is also a political dimension to the case: Eurosceptic Hungary joined lobbyist Baldan’s complaint. Poland initially did so too, but under a new, pro-European government, Warsaw is withdrawing. Observers point out that this is mainly bad publicity for Von der Leyen. She hopes for a second term after the European elections. (gina)

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Ursula von der Leyen dock vaccine deal

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