A cross-partisan panel of MEPs lambasted the EU’s mishandling of the COVID crisis at a joint press conference in the European Parliament on Wednesday, March 1st, with a warning that officials are sabotaging efforts to examine the bloc’s pandemic response.
The conference is the EU’s special COVID committee tasked with examining the EU’s response to the crisis. Established in March 2022, it is under increased pressure for its apparent lack of scrutiny of senior officials and is tasked with looking at any lessons from the pandemic. A final report to Parliament is expected shortly.
Proceedings were chaired by Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes, who shot to viral prominence for his denouncements of lockdown measures. Four MEPs from the ECR, ID, Green, and non-aligned groups assembled to focus on the failures of the EU before, during, and after the pandemic, including the Commission’s vaccine procurement process.
A lack of scrutiny of the virus’s origin was outlined by Green MEP Stays Jakeliūnas, who added that financial links between the suspected Wuhan lab and western corporations could be a driving factor in the initial dismissal of what is now termed the “lab leak theory.” A second U.S. authority this week admitted the high probability of the virus being artificially created despite a previous scientific consensus early on in the crisis that such an idea was unlikely. Jakeliūnas also called into question the prominent role of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the pandemic response.
Ex-Lega MEP Francesca Donato raised the possibility of self-sabotage of the EU’s COVID committee by Green and Left MEPs. Donato specifically questioned why the committee was enabling President von der Leyen to avoid questions over her handling of the crisis.
Answering a question by The European Conservative about potential reforms to EU institutions in the wake of the crisis, Donato advised the implementation recommendations in previous transparency reports and a reduction in bureaucracy as well as clamping down on the role of corporate lobbyists.
Independent MEP from Croatia Ivan Vilibor Sinčić accused the EU’s COVID committee of “hiding corruption”—of obstructing—the examination of the EU’s procurement process, with the Croatian MEP querying the quality of vaccines purchased.
The event was concluded by Terhes, who referenced the pandemic response as the “biggest corruption coverup” in EU history, linking a spike in mortality rate reported by statisticians to countries with high vaccination rates.
Last month, the EU’s COVID committee overturned recommendations to block representatives of Pfizer from lobbying within the Parliament as the EU Commission faces a legal dispute over its refusal to divulge correspondence between President von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.