The S&D Group has led the push in the European Parliament for an EU Covid-19 certificate that could finally help lift travel restrictions in the EU.
S&D MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar has led the negotiations on Parliament’s stance on creating a common certificate, recognised throughout the EU, which will allow travellers to show if they have received the vaccine, tested negative, or if they have recovered from the virus. The S&D Group has insisted that the proposed certificates, debated and voted today, come at no cost to citizens, that they are available to every EU citizen equally and that they fully respect people’s right to privacy.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar MEP, chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee and negotiator on the certificates, said:
“We need to put in place the EU Covid-19 certificate to re-establish people’s confidence when exercising their right to free movement while we continue to fight against the Covid pandemic. Member states must co-ordinate their responses in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU. Vaccines and tests must be accessible and free for all citizens. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force. The principle of non-discrimination and data protection laws and standards need to be duly protected. The certificate should be in place for one year, with the sole purpose of encouraging free movement within the EU. The aim is to overcome the current legal uncertainty and end unilateral and discriminatory measures to facilitate people exercising the right to free movement, and to ensure that we can soon see a fully operational Schengen area, back on track.”
Birgit Sippel MEP, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
“Free movement is enjoyed by so many different people in the EU for the purposes of work, visiting family or holiday travel. That is why it is essential that the EU Covid-19 certificates help facilitate free movement during the pandemic. As well as reinforcing our commitment to returning to a fully functioning Schengen area, we have been able to come to a clear position in the European Parliament swiftly and decisively, where the Covid-19 certificates have a very specific purpose and a limited timeframe. For people to fully trust in the certificates, they be must temporary, must expire after 12 months and must be fully in line with the EU’s data protection rules. If, after nine months in force, the Commission considers it necessary to extend the use of certificates, it should present a new proposal building on the lessons learnt from this regulation. Even with the certificates, we have to acknowledge that the pandemic is still very real and the only way to absolutely guarantee the protection of public health is through rolling out the vaccine as quickly as possible.”
Note to editor
The amendments to the Commission’s proposal include changing the name from Digital Green Certificate to EU Covid-19 Certificate.