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Decision in case 175/2021/DL on how the European Commission ensures transparency in relation to the team responsible for negotiating ‘advanced purchase agreements’ with pharmaceutical companies for vaccines against COVID-19

Monday | 22 March 2021

The case concerned the European Commission’s refusal to disclose the names of the team of experts that is involved in negotiating agreements, on behalf of the EU Member States, with pharmaceutical companies for the purchase of vaccines against COVID-19.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission’s refusal to disclose the names was in line with EU data protection legislation and therefore closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

However, she expressed regret that the Commission refused to disclose any information whatsoever concerning the experts, such as to which national administration they belong. Greater transparency about the negotiation team would help ensure true accountability about the negotiating process for COVID-19 vaccines.

She thus strongly suggests to the Commission that at least the list of seven Member States represented in the negotiating team be now published.