Monday

27th Jun 2022

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.

Opinion

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."

Opinion

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.

Opinion

How industry watered-down new EU supply chain rules

The Commission fell hook, line, and sinker for the arguments of big business on the corporate due diligence directive — conflating rules and regulations with so-called 'red tape' and rebranding regulations as 'burdens' on business which should be scrapped.

Podcast

Against white feminism: European edition

Author Rafia Zakaria turned the feminist world upside down with her bestselling book Against White Feminism. She talks with the Brussels-based journalist Shada Islam about the prevalence of white feminist thinking in Europe — particularly France.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. Expect Czech EU presidency to downgrade V4 priorities
  2. Big polluters should have no role in planning EU energy policy
  3. G7, Nato, gas anxiety and Ukraine top This WEEK
  4. Death toll rising after thousands storm Spain's wall in Africa
  5. EU summit's uncertainty in the face of economic war
  6. Next winter's gas looms large at EU summer summit
  7. Ukraine becomes EU candidate after 120 days of war
  8. How to enhance EU cybersecurity

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us