Meetings on public health between top European Commission officials and lobbies increase exponentially due to pandemic
Meetings with dozens of assistants and thousands of civil servants fly under the radar of the EU's transparency register. The heads of the pharmaceutical industry, EFPIA is one of the most active lobby groups. In less than a year and a half since the start of the pandemic they have held as many meetings with senior Commission officials as in the last five years como en los cinco años anteriores.
Regulation of the European Parliament is highly voluntary. Compared to 90% of Swedish, Danish or Finnish MEPs who disclose meetings with interest groups, only one out of ten Greek, Polish and Bulgarian MEPs do so.
In many European countries, the availability of psychological treatment in the public healthcare system is inadequate or even non-existent. Barriers such as long waiting lists, co-payments and inadequate resources push people with anxiety or depression -those who can afford it- to the private system.
Doctors continue prescribing anti-anxiety medications such as lorazepam or diazepam for long periods despite the risk of addictions. Meanwhile, under-investment in psychological care is making things worse.
In the European Union, thousands of people with serious mental disorders live isolated and secluded from society, without receiving all the care they need. At least 150 million euros of European Union funds, intended to improve their situation, have been used for other purposes.
COVID-19 has paralysed mental health care, already weak in several European countries. During the first wave, 75% of psychiatry services were via telemedicine, but it doesn’t work for everybody.
This procedure was used - with no bids and little monitoring or transparency - in 16,589 contracts totaling 6.445 billion euros. The vast majority went to the purchase of supplies such as masks, but officials snuck in public television concessions, swimming pool operations, Tasers and even camels for a Three Kings parade.
Who's paid for the work?
The Spanish Ministry of Health paid more than six euros for each swab for PCR tests. The autonomous communities and municipalities didn't escape the price spikes either. In one case, they paid more than 100 euros for a 5-litre jug of hand gel.
In situations like this pandemic, public entities can issue emergency contracts without opening a file, even orally. But they do have to comply with transparency rules afterward and publish the details within 15 days. In 2020, it took an average of 43 days. And some of them are not even published yet.
For weeks, Spain and Italy were epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their health defences had an important gap.
Both capital cities have opted for opposing mobility models—with and without restrictions. However the epidemic's impact on their borders has not been in line with their neighbours, but rather, like those at the other side of the European continent.
In the first seven months of 2019 alone, over 6,500 contract awards have failed to comply with the regulation that prevents public authorities from directly awarding several smaller contracts exceeding €15,000 or €40,000 to a single company.
Thanks to this, all citizens may request - and receive - public information produced prior to the implementation of the Spanish Transparency Law in December 2014.
The real cost that public administrations pay for CAR-T therapies is negotiated in secret, although the Ministry of Health does publish the maximum price it is willing to pay.
"Being ruled through secret source code or algorithms should never be allowed in a democratic country under the rule of law"
Spanish administration refuses to share code of app that dismissed at-risk applicants of energy subsidy, as Civio revealed.
Half of the European countries levy the same VAT on sanitary towels and tampons as on tobacco, beer and wine
The Spanish government has announced its intention to reduce VAT on sanitary towels and tampons in the 2019 budget. Since 2007, European law allows a reduction to the so-called Tampon Tax, although countries such as Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark continue to apply a general rate on such products.
Eva Belmonte received last Friday in Athens the award for Best Individual Portfolio of the Year, following Medicamentalia’s Best Investigation of 2016 award.
Aznar granted 139 and Zapatero, 62. Rajoy issued 16. The majority pardon crimes of prevarication and embezzlement.
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