NEWS

EU disunity over vaccine certificate

eu-disunity-over-vaccine-certificate

The European Parliament has approved the issuing of a “green passport” for those inoculated against the coronavirus, but its position differs significantly from the Commission’s and the European Council’s.

All sides will have to work at full speed if they want the certificate issued before the end of June.

The European Parliament’s main demand is that the certificate – which it wants to be renamed “Covid-19 certificate” from the Commission’s “Green Passport” – apply only to people inoculated with the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If approved, this provision would exclude Hungary and Slovakia, both of which have used Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Hungary has also used China’s Sinopharm vaccine, widely considered of dubious effectiveness. The EMA has not approved either vaccine, so far.

The European Council’s common position is that member-states must have the option to use vaccines not approved by the EMA and adopting the Parliament’s decision could spark a serious clash.

The MEPs also want people who carry such a certificate to be exempted from quarantine rules, taking away the decision from the member-states.

While the document will primarily be used for travel within the EU, it will be up to each member-state to require it domestically, for example, to admit people in restaurants or cinemas.

The MEPs consider lifting the quarantine for certificate holders a crucial issue for the free movement of people within the Schengen Area, a movement guaranteed by the Lisbon Treaty of 2007. Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, the Socialist rapporteur of the certificate proposition, said the Schengen Area “is in a very bad state” because of the unilateral restrictions of all sorts on cross-border movement imposed by individual member-states.

Τhe Parliament also wants the coronavirus diagnostic tests that allow cross-border movement issued for free.