Members of the European Parliament have voted to fast-track approval of a Digital Green Certificate with the aim of having the process in place for this summer, allowing for safe and free movement during the pandemic.
With 468 votes in favour, 203 against and 16 abstentions, MEPs supported using the urgency procedure (Rule 163), which allows for faster parliamentary scrutiny of the Commission’s proposals, while fully respecting its democratic prerogatives.
During the plenary debate on Wednesday, a large majority of MEPs supported a swift creation of the Digital Green Certificate, which aims to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Commission proposal, this could include information on whether a traveller has been vaccinated against COVID-19, a COVID-19 test result, and information on recovery from a COVID-19 infection.Several speakers highlighted the need to have strong data protection safeguards on personal and medical data, and stressed that those who have not been vaccinated must not face discrimination.
Plenary will adopt its mandate for negotiations with Council, which may include amendments to the Commission’s proposal, during the next plenary session (26-29 April). As the committee steering this file through Parliament, the Civil Liberties Committee can request to have the file back, in order to start the talks. The outcome of the negotiations among the co-legislators will have to be endorsed by both Parliament and Council.
After the vote, the Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR (S&D, ES) said: “We need the Digital Green Certificate to re-establish our confidence in the Schengen zone while continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The certificate cannot be a precondition for free movement as this is a fundamental right in the European Union, and it cannot lead to discrimination against those individuals who do not hold one. Citizens’ data must be safe and only necessary data should be included in the certificate.”
On 17 March, the Commission tabled a proposal for a Regulation on a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate free movement in the EU – 2021/0068 (COD) and an accompanying proposal on third country nationals legally staying or residing in the EU (2021/0071 (COD).