European Union Geopolitical Watch – From 11 February to 17 February, 2023

European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Marie Corcelle, Emma Chlebowski,, Antoine Bézier, Florent Guichard, Yanis Kourrad, Etienne Mathieu

This week: The New York Times sues the European Commission; The European Parliament agrees to end the sale of new internal combustion vehicles in 2035; Russia is added to the European Union’s list of tax havens; New sanctions against Russia are discussed in Brussels; NATO Secretary General asks Turkey to ratify the membership of Sweden and Finland; Munich conference on security issues begins.

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14/02/2023: European Commission sued by New York Times over Pfizer’s text messages with Ursula von der Leyen. – Marie Corcelle –

The New York Times filed a lawsuit against the European Commission at the EU General Court on 25 January, but the information was only revealed on 14 February on the court’s website. The American newspaper is suing Brussels because of the non-publication of text messages exchanged between President Ursula von der Leyen and the CEO of Pfizer laboratory Albert Bourla, according to Politico. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, these messages are the subject of suspicion. 

On 28 April 2021, the New York Times published an article on how the EU – and specifically Ursula von der Leyen – had concluded a deal with Pfizer on vaccines through calls and SMS. The outcome is well known: nearly 1.8 billion doses will be purchased in 2021, as France Info recalls. But in the meantime, after the revelations of his American colleagues, a journalist from the German media outlet Netzpolitik decided to submit ‘an access to information request to the Commission‘ on behalf of the media outlet, the newspaper reports (based on Regulation 1049/2001, which allows the public to access EU documents). 

When the latter was refused, he then turned to the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, who in turn came up empty, leading her to denounce “maladministrationin a statement. Indeed, the famous SMS messages might not have been kept, according to the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, in her reply to the Ombudsman’s office.

After these various episodes, the New York Times finally decided to sue the European Commission for its inability to publish the SMS.

14/02/2023 : The European Parliament agrees on the end of the sale of new combustion engine vehicles in 2035. – Emma Chlebowski –

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