The European Parliament has given the go-ahead for an EU COVID-19 certificate, a quasi-vaccine passport designed to restore freedom of movement within the EU bloc.
MEPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of the proposal with 540 MEPs backing the plans, while 119 have voted against and another 31 abstained.
The document, which could be available in both digital and paper format, will show whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, had a recent negative result, or had recovered from the infection.
Holders of an EU COVID-19 certificate will not be subject to additional travel restrictions, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing upon arrival.
It should be in place for 12 months and not longer, with MEPs adamant that the EU COVID-19 certificates will neither serve as travel document nor become a precondition to exercise the right to free movement. In order to avoid discrimination, EU countries should “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing”, MEPs said.
MEPs are insistent that personal data obtained from the certificates cannot be stored in destination member states and there will be no central database established at EU level. This, they say, will allow citizens to exercise their data protection rights under GDPR.
A similar certificate will also be made available for third-country nationals looking to travel into the EU.
“We need to put in place the EU COVID-19 Certificate to re-establish people’s confidence in Schengen while we continue to fight against the pandemic. Member states must coordinate their response in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU.”
“Vaccines and tests must be accessible and free for all citizens. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force,” Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur Juan Fernando Lopez Aquilar said.
The vote means that parliament will begin negotiating with the council to build a concrete proposal in time for the summer tourism season.
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has revealed that Malta plans to be among the first countries in the EU to issue digital vaccination certificates, while Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has backed the proposal.
Bartolo also told Lovin Malta that discussions are underway in Malta on whether a domestic ‘vaccine passport’ system should be introduced.
The likes of Israel and Denmark have recently rolled out a ‘vaccine pass’ app to allow people to return to establishments such as restaurants and gyms.
Through the system, you will be allowed entry if you’ve been fully vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 72 hours or been infected with the virus two to 12 weeks earlier.
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.
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