New York Times Sues EU Over Von Der Leyen’s Pfizer Text – POLITICO

Press play to listen to this article

Voice by artificial intelligence.

The New York Times is taking the European Commission to court over its failure to release text messages between executive agency President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Borla.

The newspaper will face off against EU lawyers in the bloc’s highest court, arguing that the commission faces a legal obligation to publish the messages, which may contain information on the bloc’s deal to buy billions of euros worth of COVID-19 doses.

The case was filed on January 25 and published in the public register of the European Court of Justice on Monday, but no details are yet available online. Two people familiar with the matter confirmed details of the case to POLITICO.

The New York Times declined to comment on the lawsuit. A statement from the publication said: “The Times files numerous Freedom of Information requests and maintains an active docket. We cannot comment on this case at this time.”

The European Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case follows a January 2022 investigation by European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, which identified maladministration in the Commission’s efforts to recover text messages, following a public access request by journalist Alexander Fanta. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the commission did not explicitly ask the President’s personal office to look at the text messages.

In response, the EU’s Commissioner for Values ​​and Transparency Vera Zorova claimed that the text messages could be deleted due to their “ephemeral, ephemeral nature”.

Germany’s Bild daily had previously filed a series of lawsuits against the Commission for publishing documents related to negotiations to buy a COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer/BioEntech and AstraZeneca.

Although several of its petitions were dismissed by the court, Bild — which, like POLITICO, is owned by publisher Axel Springer — obtained some documents related to the negotiations, including email correspondence dating back to June 2020. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the commission, has no information, although Bild’s lawsuit brought to light previous contacts with Pfizer CEO Borla.

Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine and Aoife White.