Pfizergate plaintiff asks leaders to sack von der Leyen and Commission

Pfizergate plaintiff asks leaders to sack von der Leyen and Commission

The letter from the plaintiff's lawyer was addressed to all 27 EU leaders and Manfred Weber, the president of von der Leyen’s European People’s Party (EPP). Its receipt was logged yesterday (29 May) at the European Council.

The plaintiff asked EU leaders “to refer the [Pfizergate] matter to the Court of Justice so that it may order the compulsory resignation and forfeiture of pension rights not only of Mrs von der Leyen but also of all the European Commissioners who make up her Commission.”

Additionally, the plaintiff asked “the European People's Party to withdraw the candidacy of Ms von der Leyen for the post of President of the European Commission” as well as “prohibiting anyone from presenting the candidature of Mrs von der Leyen to the post of President of the European Commission or any other post within the European institutions as long as she is the subject of criminal proceedings.”

The lawyer based her request on Article 245 (action incompatible with their duties) and Article 247 (serious misconduct) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The case concerned the disclosure of calls and text messages exchanged between von der Leyen and Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla through which both parties negotiated vaccine contracts during the COVID-19 crisis.

Following a criminal complaint filed by Frédéric Baldan, a Belgian lobbyist focusing on China-EU trade relations, the Belgian authorities initiated the case in early 2023. Subsequently, the governments of Hungary and Poland joined the lawsuit. The Commission is not a party in the case before the Court of Liège.

Von der Leyen kept “stubbornly refusing to disclose contracts for the purchase of COVID vaccines [...and] the electronic messages she exchanged with Mr Bourla, CEO of Pfizer", according to the letter which said her actions offended "public morality" and "shatter the legitimate confidence that citizens should be able to have in all members of the European Commission".

“It is clear that Mrs von der Leyen and the members of her Commission are no longer in a position to perform their duties," according to the letter, finding that this "violates the principle of good administration provided for in Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

“This situation must be remedied as a matter of urgency,” it continued.

The plaintiff also challenged the involvement of the EU’s prosecutor office (EPPO) which has asked to take the case on, since under EU law, the body is meant to investigate, prosecute, and bring to judgment perpetrators of criminal offences damaging the EU budget.

According to Baldan, the aim of the EPPO move was to “declare all the civil parties, in this case, to be null and void, and therefore to annul the entire investigation,” adding that the office might no longer have the necessary funds to complete its investigations by the end of 2024.

The EU Executive is aware of this letter but never comments on ongoing judicial proceedings, a Commission spokesperson told Euronews.