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The European Commission's refusal of public access to text messages exchanged between the Commission President and the CEO of a pharmaceutical company on the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine

The complainant sought public access from the European Commission to text messages and other documents concerning discussions between the Commission President and the CEO of a pharmaceutical company on the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Commission said it could not provide access to any text messages, as no record had been kept of any such messages. The complainant maintains the Commission has an obligation to record instant messages relating to important policy or political matters, such as the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry and sought to meet with representatives of the Commission to discuss the applicable procedures and practice.