Operation transparency, or almost. The European Union unveiled for the first time to MEPs, Tuesday, January 12, one of the contracts for ordering vaccines against Covid-19. But of “many passages” have been “crossed out” concerning prices and the liability of laboratories, according to MEP Pascal Canfin, who denounces a “limited transparency”.
“I had access to the entire contract, but with a lot of crossed out, blacked out, illegible parts (…) of the key elements. It’s problematic”, said the French MEP (Renew, Liberals), chairman of the environment and health committee in the European Parliament. The European Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of the Twenty-Seven, intends to keep the details of its vaccine orders confidential as long as it continues negotiations with laboratories, in order to respect its commitments and not weaken its position in the talks.
But, under strong pressure from MEPs, the European executive agreed to make the contract concluded with the German CureVac available to a few MEPs this week, in a very structured manner, after the green light from the company. “There are indeed some blackened passages on demand” by CureVac, because “you must have the agreement of the company to show the contract or parts” to third parties, the Commission is justified. “But the majority of the provisions are visible”, she asserts.
Pascal Canfin, the first MEP to have access to it, had around 45 minutes to go through the sixty pages of the document in a “reading room” dedicated. “The crossed out passages concerned the price, the places of production, and two whole paragraphs on questions of legal responsibilities: on a subject as complex as this one, where there may be exceptions. not transparency “, castigates the MEP.
“Reading this contract raises more questions than it answers. There is nothing on the sharing of intellectual property” nor of “mechanism to consider lower prices later” in the event of additional orders, regrets Pascal Canfin. After subsidies from Europeans to finance the vaccine, “We should logically expect a sharing of intellectual property, for example to be able to transfer cheaper doses to southern countries”, he argued. The other five contracts signed by the EU so far are still inaccessible to parliamentarians.