Ursula von der Leyen humiliated as EU leader joins major case against her | World | News

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen finds herself embroiled in a major legal case, as top European prosecutors investigate allegations of criminal wrongdoing in connection with vaccine negotiations.

The investigation, spearheaded by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), revolves around von der Leyen’s alleged involvement in negotiations with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The probe, which was initially opened by Belgian judicial authorities in 2023 following a criminal complaint, has now escalated with EPPO taking charge.

Viktor Orban’s Hungary has now joined the high-profile case with a complaint in connection to the Commission president’s role in vaccine negotiations too, according to two insiders with knowledge of the matter.

The case alleges “interference in public functions, destruction of SMS, corruption and conflict of interest,” according to legal documents and a spokesperson from the Liège prosecutor’s office. While no charges have been filed yet, the seriousness of the accusations casts a shadow over von der Leyen’s leadership.

The complaint, originally lodged by Belgian lobbyist Frédéric Baldan, gained traction as it was later supported by the Hungarian and Polish governments.

The case, dubbed “Pfizergate,” centres around alleged text message exchanges between von der Leyen and Bourla during negotiations for the EU’s vaccine procurement, raising questions about transparency and accountability.

The New York Times, which first disclosed the existence of these, has taken legal action against the Commission after it refused to disclose their content. The legal battle adds further pressure on von der Leyen and the Commission, as they face calls for transparency regarding the vaccine deal, valued at over €20 billion.

The development comes at a critical juncture for von der Leyen, as she navigates her potential second term at the helm of the European Commission. Despite mounting scrutiny and demands for clarification, von der Leyen has remained tight-lipped on the matter, stating: “Everything necessary about that has been said and exchanged. And we will wait for the results.”

The case intertwines with broader legal disputes involving Pfizer, as the pharmaceutical company has also sued Hungary and Poland over missing payments for vaccine doses.

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