European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a joint press conference with Czech President Pavel (not pictured) after their meeting at Prague Castle, in Prague, Czech Republic, 02 May 2023. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK


More headaches for EC President von der Leyen as Pfizer lawsuit asks if she ‘destroyed official documents’


A Belgian lobbyist is suing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over SMS exchanges she allegedly had with Pfizer’s chief executive, asking whether she still has them and if not, whether she has destroyed them.

Whichever way the President answers – if she does – there could be headaches on the way.

“We are faced with a situation where the President of the European Commission acted outside the European treaties”, says Frédéric Baldan, a lobbyist who says he is acting on his own behalf. Von der Leyen, who is fending off legal action on several fronts, had no right to negotiate on behalf of Belgium, Baldan is alleging.

“There is a problem of administrative transparency and respect of fundamental law,” Balden told France-Soir.

From the moment negotiations took place by SMS, these documents became official administrative documents, he says. A separate lawsuit by the New York Times is designed to force the President to hand over the SMS messages. Mr Balden says that if she can’t, on the grounds that she has deleted or “destroyed” them, that is potentially an illegal act.

“The question,” Balden said, “is: has Madame destroyed them?” SMS messages “do not disappear by themselves”. If they’ve been deleted that’s clearly a case of “destruction of administrative documents”, he continued. If she hasn’t destroyed the messages, von der Leyen will fall foul of the New York Times action in that she has failed to hand them over.

The lobbyist, who specialises in Chinese affairs, said the Covid vaccine contract contained clear “advantages” for manufacturer Pfizer.

“We are in essence asking the law courts: Do you want to show us that we live in a democracy? That’s all very well. We’re going to ask you to show that you can act with independence…Show us that you are independent from the political powers…Conduct an investigation…Show us that what we say is not true. Show us that [von der Leyen] is beyond all suspicion…Maintain your credibility in the eyes of the public.”

Mr Balden says he is receiving no financial support for taking this legal action. He says he decided to get involved after witnessing a “perturbing” European Parliament seminar in Strasbourg where women gave witness to adverse Covid vaccine reactions. Given the way the Commission and other authorities failed to act, he said he couldn’t “stand by without acting”.

The Commission systematically fails to answer the questions of Euro MPs, he said. “If you ask the question: ‘are you Belgian or French?’ the answer they give is ‘cauliflower’,” he said by way of mocking example. Commission answers on sensitive questions such as Covid vaccines have “no rational logic”. The Commission “has decided not to answer the questions asked of it”. This is “intolerable and unacceptable in a democracy”.

Further to another Parliament seminar, this time in Brussels, and a presentation by a Pfizer representative, Mr Balden said he had come to the conclusion that governments had “lied” about the effectiveness of Covid vaccinations in terms of their inability to prevent contagion. “Pfizer admitted that it had no data on this… it hadn’t even been studied.”

Alleged lies and the apparent unwillingness of some public prosecutors to take up these sensitive subjects suggested that the EU was in danger of “totalitarian drift”, he said.

The EU ombudsman has already found the Commission guilty of maladministration over its Covid negotiations and refusal to provide details of SMS messages.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in March that von der Leyen did not have any role in negotiating Covid vaccine contracts.

There are some in Brussels who believe the Commission President will not survive the Covid SMS affair. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office announced last October that it is looking into the Covid vaccine purchases, without mentioning the Commission President.

Any danger to her is however unlikely to come from the European Parliament. If the President agrees to appear before the Parliament, which she has not yet done, any hearing will be behind closed doors.