The horizon is clearing for travel within the European Union (EU) this summer, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. MEPs gave their final agreement, Wednesday, June 9, to the digital Covid certificate, intended to facilitate travel this summer within the EU. It is now up to the Member States to put it in place by 1is July, for a period of twelve months.
Issued free of charge by the national authorities, this certificate will be available in digital or paper format and will contain a QR code. The document will certify that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, that they have had a test (which is negative) or that they are immune (following an infection). It should make it possible to avoid making quarantines in the countries of destination.
546 votes in favor, 93 against
In a vote on Tuesday, the result of which was unveiled on Wednesday, MEPs, at least half of whom are present in Strasbourg, while the others voted from a distance, broadly adopted, by 546 votes in favor (93 votes against , 51 abstentions), this common certificate system.
“After a record time of negotiations, less than two months, we succeeded”, welcomed the Spanish Socialist MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, rapporteur of this text which, according to him, “Relaunches the freedom of movement of European citizens”. “It is THE European response to put an end to the patchwork of different rules”, rejoiced the French centrist Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé.
Despite a large favorable vote, several MEPs, however, have expressed reservations about the protection of personal data. French ecologist MEP Michèle Rivasi said he was opening “A new risk in terms of traceability”. Otherwise, “This certificate is not consolidated by the free testing [à l’échelle communautaire] (…), it therefore opens the way to risks of discrimination ”, regretted the French socialist Sylvie Guillaume.
Encouragement to issue it quickly
During a debate on Tuesday in the European Parliament’s hemicycle in Strasbourg, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders encouraged states to already issue such certificates to avoid a traffic jam in the proceedings at the start of the summer.
According to him, “More than a million citizens have already received these certificates and many more will follow in the weeks and months to come”. Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Poland, Lithuania and Spain have started to deliver it. In France, the health pass entered into force on Wednesday.
If the European text governing this Covid certificate concerns free movement, the Member States may use this document for other purposes (festivals, concerts, sporting events, etc.) within the framework of their national legislation.
The European Commission has also promised 100 million euros – an insufficient sum, according to MEPs in favor of free access – for the purchase of screening tests against Covid-19, which, if they are covered by Social Security in France, can be very expensive in some countries.