Lack of transparency in vaccine contracts: MEPs sue the EU Commission

The Green MEPs in the EU Parliament Margrete Auken (Denmark), Kim van Sparrentak (Netherlands), Tilly Metz (Luxembourg), Jutta Paulus (Germany), and Michele Rivasi (France) announce in a joint press release that the European Court of Justice has a having filed a lawsuit against the European Commission.

This lawsuit follows the repeated refusal of the EU Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, to provide unredacted information and details on the contracts with pharmaceutical companies. Access to key information about the Commission’s contracts has been requested since the announcement of contract agreements to order billions of doses of COVID 19 vaccines. However, the majority of the partially blackened papers that have been made available to date “make it impossible to understand the content of the contracts,” according to explanations in the press release. The Danish MEP Auken comments in the statement on the motives and claims of the lawsuit:

“Transparency is a key tool in the fight against COVID 19. Secrecy is a breeding ground for distrust and skepticism and has no place in public agreements with pharmaceutical companies. The European Commission’s refusal to bring transparency to their vaccine contracts is damaging public confidence in the ability the EU to achieve the best possible outcome for its citizens. With this case, we will fight for the public’s right to information.”

Kim van Sparrentak is quoted as saying:

“We are in a pandemic and in a constant battle against misinformation. Confidentiality under the guise of trade secrets only fuels uncertainty and fear. Purchases made with public money should be accompanied by public information, especially when it comes to health We are opposed to the Commission’s refusal to be transparent about contracts.”

MEP Metz tweeted: “We – Jutta Paulus, Margrete Auken, Michele Rivasi, Kim van Sparrentak and myself – have filed a complaint against @EU_Commission with @EUCourtPress, demanding access to the full contracts for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines .”

The German MEP Paulus spoke to the dpa stating: “Purchases made with public money should be accompanied by public information, especially on health issues.” According to the press release, the five MEPs demand:

  • the disclosure of the price of the vaccine unit,
  • advance payments, donations, liability and compensation,
  • question the Commission’s reasoning on trade secrets
  • and further argue that there is an overriding public interest in having access to the Treaties.

A spokesman for the EU Commission replied on Friday, according to the dpa, the authority “has always been transparent” and “made the contracts accessible online”. However, due to confidentiality obligations, “parts have been blacked out”.

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