An investigation by an official EU watchdog into secret text messages sent by European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla, has found the EU’s executive arm guilty of “maladministration.”
Von der Leyen’s aides are heavily criticized in the ruling from Emily O’Reilly, the European ombudsman, for their handling of requests for publication of the messages during negotiations over COVID-19 vaccine purchases with Pfizer sent to CEO Albert Bourla, whose company is now forecasting revenues of $36 billion (£26bn) from COVID-19 vaccine sales this financial year.
O’Reilly said the commission’s behavior fell short of the levels of transparency required under EU law.
“The narrow way in which this public access request was treated meant that no attempt was made to identify if any text messages existed. This falls short of reasonable expectations of transparency and administrative standards in the commission,” O’Reilly said.
“Not all text messages need to be recorded, but text messages clearly do fall under the EU transparency law and so relevant text messages should be recorded. It is not credible to claim otherwise.”