The European Parliament has voted to expedite the creation and approval of the proposed ‘vaccine passport,’ according to an announcement released by the Parliament.
The goal of expediting this process is to have it approved and ready-to-go by June 2021.
The creation of a ‘vaccine passport,’ according to European Union governing bodies, is what is allegedly required in order to restore freedom of movement to the Schengen Area and European Union while COVID-19 is still circulating around populations.
“To facilitate its adoption by the summer, MEPs decided to accelerate the approval of the Digital Green Certificate, allowing for safe and free movement during the pandemic,” the announcement reads.
A ‘vaccine passport,’ known now by governing bodies as a “digital green certificate” shows that a person has either been vaccinated with an approved vaccine against COVID-19, has tested negative for COVID-19, or proof of recovery from the virus.
“According to the Commission proposal, this [the Digital Green Certificate] 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,” the announcement reads.
Some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have stressed the need to incorporate safeguards against the theft of data in order to keep peoples’ personal and medical information safe.
In addition, some MEPs have also stressed that those who have not been vaccinated are not to be discriminated against.
“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,” the announcement reads.
There appears to be widespread support for the certificate to expedite the restoration of freedom of movement in the Schengen Area and EU. In addition, the certificate is marketed as something that is not to be a precondition for the fundamental right of freedom of movement within the EU.
“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,” said Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, which is overseeing this process.
However, freedom of movement within/to/from the EU and Schengen Area has been severely limited for more than 1 year at the time of writing this article, and the certificate is what is supposed to restore this “fundamental right.”
The vote to expedite the process passed in Parliament with 468 in favor, 203 against, and 16 abstentions. The vote was on whether or not to use the Urgency Procedure (Rule 163) which will allow for faster scrutiny by the Parliament of the Commission’s proposals.
During the next Plenary Session from 26-29 April 2021, the European Parliament, Council, and Commission will discuss the next steps of the proposal and make amendments if necessary.