London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

0:00
0:00

Corruption in the European Parliament - Business as usual

No texts. No contracts. No criticism. How Europe’s COVID inquiry went dark
When the European Parliament established a special committee on COVID-19 in March 2022, the intent was to bring transparency and democratic accountability to the decisions made during the pandemic. However, 16 months later, the committee, known as COVI, finds itself enshrouded in secrecy, leaving crucial questions unanswered and European lawmakers in the dark.

Initially, the committee's creation came on the heels of the European Ombudsman's admonition to the European Commission for not scrutinizing text messages between Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. These messages were allegedly exchanged in the lead-up to the EU’s most significant vaccine contract. The appointment of Kathleen Van Brempt, the Parliament’s Dieselgate investigator, as the head of the special committee signaled a rigorous approach.

Swathed in Secrecy

However, the committee’s commitment to transparency seemed to wane. On May 30th, a select group of MEPs in COVI were sworn to secrecy and privately informed about a new vaccine agreement between the European Commission and Pfizer. Attendees were prohibited from taking notes or having mobile phones in the meeting room. Moreover, this meeting was kept under wraps from other lawmakers on the COVI committee.

Pierre Delsaux, who leads the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), provided the briefing. Attendees were given verbal updates to the EU's 2021 contract with Pfizer/BioNTech but were not shown the written contract. One of the participants indicated that the original commitment for 450 million vaccine doses for the year was revised to 260 million doses spread over four years.

This clandestine meeting was the second of its kind, the first having taken place before the deal’s finalization on May 26th. These secret meetings signified a stark departure from the committee’s original mandate of transparency.

Obstacles to Transparency

COVI’s efforts to shed light on negotiations between the European Commission and Pfizer met various impediments. The committee invited Pfizer’s CEO and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to public appearances, but Bourla declined and Von der Leyen’s invitation was deflected by the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents.

The committee’s final report reflects this compromise on transparency. The report "regrets the lack of transparency" but deems it "partly justified by respect for the right to confidentiality". The demand for the publication of the full and unredacted contracts is notably absent.

Kathleen Van Brempt commented that although HERA’s willingness to update MEPs was positive, it did not address the broader issue of transparency for the public regarding contracts between the EU and vaccine producers.

An Uncertain Path Forward

The European Parliament is now tasked with voting on the COVI report, likely to take place in July. What was initially conceived as a committee aimed at restoring transparency and accountability has faced a series of roadblocks, leaving an ambiguous legacy in its wake.

As the European public continues to seek clarity on the actions and decisions taken during the pandemic, the role of democratic institutions in ensuring transparency remains crucial. The trajectory of the COVI committee raises questions on the effectiveness of such institutions in safeguarding transparency and holding decision-makers accountable.
Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
News roundup
Good day, everyone! We've got some gripping stories for you today, spanning from the Middle East to Europe, and even a touch of Hollywood.
Britain’s Refugee Visa Rules Stranding Children in War Zones
UK Elections Predict ‘Electoral Extinction’ for PM Sunak’s Conservative Party
Italian Activist Ilaria Salis Returns Home After Election to European Parliament
Good morning!
England Faces Serbia in Euro Opener with Defensive Concerns
Dermatologist Warns Against Sunbed Usage
Fake Pro-Reform UK Social Accounts and Their Influence on Elections
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
×