The European Parliament today decided on its position on the decree establishing the digital certificate of vaccination, which paved the way for negotiations with the Member States on its final form.
The results of the corresponding vote will be announced tonight. The parties have significant disagreements, and the time is not yet waiting for the completion of the legislative and technical study, which will allow the certificate to be activated by the end of June.
A key requirement of the European Parliament is that the certificate, which it wants to rename “Covid-19 Certificate”, only applies to vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The general position of the Council is that Member States should also have discretionary discretion to recognize vaccines that have not been approved by the EMA. Recall that Hungary and Slovakia used the Russian Sputnik V in its vaccination campaign, while the Orban government also used the dubious Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Both of these vaccines have not been approved by the EMA.
In addition, parliament will insist on the elimination of restrictive measures against travelers who meet one of the three conditions of the certificate. The ultimate responsibility for quarantining travelers lies with member states, but MEPs will insist that for the certificate to be meaningful, it must be exempted from such measures.
Expanding its indoor use (for example, in restaurants or cinemas) is a matter for the member states, but the abolition of the quarantine for certificate holders is viewed by MEPs as a direct link to the free movement of Europeans in the Schengen area, which is guaranteed by the Lisbon Agreement. Juan Fernando López Aguilar, the Socialist and Democratic MEP who is the main parliamentary rapporteur on the issue, said the Schengen area is “in a very bad situation” due to unilateral restrictions imposed by member states on cross-border travel.
Another parliamentary request, in the name of non-discrimination against those who have not been vaccinated, is that diagnostic tests that will allow them to cross the border be provided free of charge. Several MEPs also spoke this morning in a plenary discussion on the need for further action to protect the personal health data of Europeans.
At the beginning of the discussion on the certificate, Justice Commissioner Didier Raiders said that if the legislative and technical processes are not completed in time, “there is a risk of a fragmentation of Europe with many, possibly incompatible, national solutions.” According to him, this will increase the likelihood of the proliferation of fake certificates, which will undermine the confidence of citizens in the system.
For her part, Council of Europe Minister Ana Paula Zacaria also stated that although her country’s mandate to negotiate with parliament does not include the issue of test prices, “member states are aware of the importance of eliminating or reducing costs incurred by citizens and making testing easier”.