6th Dec 2023

MEPs want EU Commission to reveal vaccine prices

  • Vera Jourová said not all information can be made available due to the 'highly competitive nature of the global market' (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

MEPs of the special parliamentary committee on Covid-19 on Tuesday (21 June) called on the commission to reveal information on vaccine prices.

"Citizens are paying for these vaccines. Should they not have the right to access the information," Maria Matias of the Left group asked EU commissioner for transparency Věra Jourová in a hearing that at times became agitated.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Commissioner Jourová, said in response not all information can be made available due to the "highly competitive nature of the global market."

Jourová, who said she does not know the prices of the vaccines herself, told MEPs the commission is currently negotiating with vaccine-makers to allow public authorities more access.

The commission has signed agreements with BionTech-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

Currently, only a handful of commission negotiators know what has been paid for the vaccines.

A select group of MEPs were allowed to read the contracts to prepare for Tuesday's meeting but only had access to heavily-redacted versions that did not include prices and other crucial information relating to price negotiations between the commission and vaccine-makers.

"We could not photograph or copy the contracts. I feel very humiliated," Ivan Sinčić of the non-attached members told commissioner Jourová. "Maybe you could have given us a bottle of wine to drink while reading the contracts so we could forget them."

MEPs also said commercial pharmaceutical interest should not be allowed to supersede other interests and EU values like transparency.

In April this year a group of five EU lawmakers sued the commission to fully disclose its Covid vaccine contracts.

Danish Green lawmaker Margrete Auken, joined by Kim van Sparrentak, Tilly Metz, Jutta Paulus, and Michele Rivasi, previously stated the lawsuit was a fight for the public's right to information.

It took two years, and two Freedom of Information requests, by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory to get the relevant documents published, but many of the documents have remained heavily-redacted.

This also includes negotiations that have taken place through WhatsApp messages between commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla.

At the end of the summer, the commission and lawmakers from the special committee are expected to discuss transparency and vaccine prices with the CEO's from the pharmaceutical companies.


The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

MEPs sue EU commission for Covid contract transparency

Five European lawmakers from the Greens lodged a lawsuit against the European Commission for not fully disclosing its Covid vaccine contracts with the pharmaceutical industry. The commission says it is in "the business of respecting contracts."


Never waste a crisis - so start building Covid research in Africa

Botswana was the first country able to detect the emergence of the Omicron variant, thanks to its sequencing capacities. Eleven infectious disease experts from Africa and Europe call for developing research networks across the African continent to respond future pandemics.

Member states stall on EU ban on forced-labour products

More than two years after the EU Commission first proposed a law on forced labour, inter-institutional negotiations have not started because member states cannot reach agreement — risking the text's adoption before the 2024 European Parliament elections.


The EU's U-turn on caged farm animals — explained

A European citizens' initiative — signed by 1.4 million people — saw the EU Commission promise to ban cages for 300 million farmed animals. Then the farming lobby got involved.


'Pay or okay?' — Facebook & Instagram vs the EU

Since last week, Mark Zuckerberg's Meta corporation is forcing its European users to either accept their intrusive privacy practices — or pay €156 per year to access Facebook and Instagram without tracking advertising.

Latest News

  1. EU nears deal to fingerprint six year-old asylum seekers
  2. Orbán's Ukraine-veto threat escalates ahead of EU summit
  3. Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?
  4. Protecting workers' rights throughout the AI revolution
  5. Russia, the West, and the geopolitical 'touch-move rule'
  6. Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head
  7. EU public procurement reform 'ineffective', find auditors
  8. COP28 warned over-relying on carbon capture costs €27 trillion

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us