Malta’s travel ban on unvaccinated people is not in breach of EU law on freedom of movement, Maltese European law lecturer Ivan Sammut has argued.
Sammut was interviewed on FLiving yesterday following the European Commission’s warning yesterday that the travel ban is discriminatory and goes against EU regulations on digital COVID-19 certificates.
“A vaccination certificate cannot be a precondition for the exercise of free movement, this is a main principle of the EU Digital COVID-19 certificate regulation,” EC spokesperson Christian Wigand said.
“We have concerns that the measures could discriminate against people who are not fully vaccinated and we have made contact with Malta and asked for explanation of the measures. We’ll raise this issue in a member states coordination meeting (IPCR).”
However, Sammut argued that the prohibition of discrimination on freedom of movement within the EU means that countries must treat people from different EU member states equally.
“Free movement between EU member states is sacred but the EU treaties allow countries to request exceptions for health-related reasons,” he said. “It cannot be discriminatory though, which means that Maltese, Italian and French people must be treated equally.”
“If for health-related reasons, Malta decides that only vaccinated people can enter its territory and applies the rule equally to Maltese, French and Italians alike, then there isn’t discrimination at play if there’s a valid reason justified by science to protect herd immunity in Malta.”
“I’m no scientist but if scientists prove that it’s important for visitors to be vaccinated in order for Malta to safeguard its herd immunity, then I don’t think Malta is in breach of EU principles of freedom of movement.”
However, he added that a complication might arise in that the Maltese authorities will have to distinguish between travellers who don’t want to get vaccinated and travellers who cannot get vaccinated.
“Those who cannot get vaccinated for reasons that are proven valid should be allowed to enter Malta.”