European Parliament fast-tracks approval for Digital Green Certificate

Most MEPs supported the Digital Green Certificate during the debate but warned that all efforts to recover will be void unless Europeans are vaccinated more quickly

Parliament decided this week to fast-track approval for the Digital Green Certificate

On Thursday, MEPs decided whether to use the urgent procedure for the proposed Digital Green Certificate. The debate took place on Wednesday afternoon.

The Commission tabled the proposal for a regulation creating the digital green certificate on March 17, 2021, suggesting that it should be adopted before the summer. The proposal aims to facilitate security and free movement within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would include information about whether a traveler has been vaccinated against COVID-19, if they have tested negative for COVID-19, and information about any previous infection with COVID-19.

In a debate on the 24 March about the Digital Green Certificate with commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič and the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council, MEPs debated the digital green certificate for the first time on Wednesday afternoon and decided how to steer this file through Parliament and if the urgent procedure should be used on Thursday.

The Digital Green Certificate proposed by the European Commission can help guarantee free movement within the European Union and support the much-needed recovery of the travel and tourism sector, a majority of the MEPs who took the floor said.

However, some voiced concerns that those who have not been vaccinated may face discrimination, and highlighted the need to ensure highest standards of data protection.

“Digital green certificate includes PCR testing and disease recovery. It's important that digital inclusion leaves no one behind,” Ana Paula Zacarias, the Secretary of State for European Affairs of Portugal, told MEPs.

The digital green certificate will be available free of charge in paper and digital form. It will work in three ways:

- It will give proof that the person has been vaccinated or has had a positive result on a test where the COVID-19 has been cured and has antibodies

- It will be a question of showing that this document is recognizable in all the member states

- This certificate will help member states to guarantee the full freedom of movement of their citizens in a safe, responsible and reliable manner.

“The Commission will set up this gateway to ensure that all certificates can be duly verified with the EU. It will support member states for the technical implementation of these certificates. The goal is to have this system operational by June. This is why we have asked the European Parliament to deal with this file as part of the state of emergency procedure. This certificate is only part of the strategy for a sustainable relaunch and reopening,” Maroš Sefcovic, Vice-President for the European Commission, said.

Most MEPs supported the Digital Green Certificate during the debate but warned that all efforts to recover will be void unless Europeans are vaccinated more quickly.

MEPs stressed the need to guarantee an adequate number of vaccines across the EU through a coordinated and unified approach. Some expressed their fear that the European Union’s credibility is at risk due to the mismanagement of vaccine contracts and the slow distribution of the jabs.

Several speakers referred to delays in delivering Astra Zeneca vaccines and to today’s discovery of almost 30 million doses in an Italian factory, with many speakers calling for legal action against the manufacturer.

Others warned against an export ban due to the risk of retaliatory measures that could result in further delays, with some highlighting that many poorer countries that are yet to receive a single dose would be unduly hurt by such a move.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

More in Ewropej