(The conversation refers to Germany’s violation of the EU joint vaccine scheme by buying 30 million extra doses for itself, while promoting a pact that no member of the EU block would strike separate deals to secure vaccines individually.)
“Certainly, as citizens, we may feel concerned that secrets are being kept regarding such an important matter. Even if permitted by law, these secrets are noticed by EU citizens, who question the intentions and the transparency in the pharmaceutical companies’ behavior. This anxiety may also apply to the quality of the product that is sold,” says Prof. Arkadiusz Jabłoński, sociologist, lecturer at the Catholic University of Lublin.
wPolityce: As of now, the European Council has not punished Germany for breaking the EU solidarity over the Coronavirus vaccine. Are you surprised by that?
Prof. Jablonski: Of course not. Those with more power can get away with more. We are in a situation where each government cares first and foremost about its citizens, but there remains the issue of EU solidarity honoring agreements. More countries should set an example, because if the selfish pursuit of their interests is sent out, it is to be expected that other countries will act the same way. This undermines trust on a whole variety of other issues covered by EU policies. If it is not possible to reach an agreement on such an important issue and if the guarantor of EU unity and stability, which Germany has been for years, sets such a negative example, it is difficult to expect future European unity.
The European Commission hid contracts for Covid-19 vaccines, which it negotiated with pharmaceutic companies because they demanded it. Does it mean that we have the end of democracy and the beginning of corporate dictatorship?
It’s difficult to say whether this should be interpreted this way. There are such things as trade secrets guaranteed by the freedom to conduct business.
Yes, but deals made with public institutions as a contractor should be transparent. Transparency, as well as the democratic treatment of citizens require it, at least in theory. The transparency principle also applies to the European Commission.
Suppose the rule of openness regarding economic agreements with international institutions of with individual states has been broken here, then, of course. In that case, we are dealing with a dangerous precedent here, if it is indeed a precedent. It would be another manifestation of a situation where companies impose their conditions on countries and limit input from individual countries with entities in the agreement.
From my perspective, if the terms of the contract, which should be transparent, are concealed, what guarantees do we have that, for example, any possible side effects of the vaccine have not been suppressed as well? For me as a citizen, this information is quite important.
Indeed, as citizens, we may feel disturbed by the fact that such an important matter is immersed in secrecy. These secrets, even if permitted by law, do not bode well with the citizens. They have no confidence in the intentions and the transparency in the activities of the pharmaceutical companies. This concern may also apply to the quality of the products being sold. It also creates fears and undermines the effectiveness of such products.