The existence of chat traffic between the president of the European Commission and the top executive of the pharmaceutical company came to light last May through an article in The New York Times. According to the newspaper, the two had contact via text messages and phone calls for a month and “personal diplomacy played a major role” in a new purchase deal of 1.8 billion doses of the corona vaccine.
A reporter later requested the SMS traffic via a WOB request, but received no response in Brussels. The European Commission main subject only to have an email, letter and a press release about it. The European Ombudsman’s inquiry now revealed that Ursula von der Leyen’s team did not even bother to search for text messages. The Commission does not regard SMS traffic as a ‘document’ that you can request.
Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly thinks otherwise: “If text messages concern EU policies and decisions, they should be used as EU documents.” Keeping text messages under wraps is “mismanagement” according to ombudsman Emily O’Reilly. Her court now has to look for the messages again.
Moreover, the watchdog believes that Brussels cannot hide behind the word ‘document’ old-fashioned. O’Reilly: “The EU needs to grow with the times we live in and the modern methods we use to communicate.”
The ombudsman has used the heaviest weapon against von der Leyen: a recommendation. The European Commission, itself acting as a watchdog of regulations, must now look again at the chat traffic.
Brussels turns the emergency into fumes and uses the procedure as an excuse not to respond to critical questions about the affair. Von der Leyent’s declaration date according to the rules to be registered. He does not want to say whether the dearly paid top woman knew her text messages. First, the Ombudsman receives a response.
It is not the time that the German top politician has solved the problems through a first lack of transparency. During her time as Defense Minister in Germany, she came under fire for dubious tenders. She was eventually acquitted of wrongdoing, but also in this file was a role for deleted text messages.
D66 MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld demands that von der Leyen come and give an explanation in the European Parliament.