The goal of procuring a broad portfolio of vaccines has been achieved. And the amount ordered “is enough,” said Mamer. But when it comes to questions about contract details and internal agreements, the authority of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) is buttoned up.
Dissatisfaction is therefore growing in the European Parliament. “The EU Commission has so far kept all the details about the negotiations with the vaccine manufacturers secret,” said Nicola Beer (FDP), Vice President of the EU Parliament, to SPIEGEL. “If the Commission does not create transparency very quickly – for example in a special meeting of the Health Committee – the European Parliament must set up a committee of inquiry.”
Why did you order so few vaccine doses from BioNTech?
The steering committee, in which the Commission and representatives of the EU countries decide on the vaccine strategy, is also a »black box«, says Beer. “It cannot be acceptable that the EU Parliament, whose responsibility is to monitor the Commission, learn nothing about what is going on in the committee,” says Beer.
Your group colleague Andreas Glück had already sent a questionnaire to the EU Commission on December 22nd. Glück, a doctor and a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, wanted to know what the commission had to say about allegations that it had not bought enough doses of vaccine from BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna.
Glück also asked for a full list of other manufacturers with whom the Commission has agreed to deliver. Finally, he asked if there was any cause for concern “that the EU will be providing its population with vaccine doses less quickly and adequately than the US, Canada and the UK.”
Glück has not received an answer to this day.
“The EU Commission must create complete transparency,” says the Baden-Württemberg FDP politician. Together with Beer, Glück now wants to put questions to the commission again. The FDP MPs want to know why von der Leyens officials ordered so few vaccines from BioNTech and Pfizer and why they did not order larger quantities later. “If we don’t get any information through the usual parliamentary channels, a committee of inquiry should clarify this,” said Glück.
One of the central questions is whether, for political reasons, the EU Commission has not reordered any additional vaccine doses from the German company BioNTech. The background to this is information from SPIEGEL that the French government has insisted on ordering no more from BioNTech than from the French company Sanofi. The EU Commission has denied this, but gave no details.
There is also support from the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag for a committee of inquiry in Brussels. The deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, had already suggested an investigative committee on January 2nd.
It is not a question of scandalizing the processes between the member states and the EU Commission, says Lambsdorff, who himself used to sit in the European Parliament. “But the EU Commission’s denial that there were no political reasons for an appointment at Sanofi is not enough,” says Lambsdorff. “She has to present and explain the entire process in a special committee of the EU Parliament.”