Commission’s ‘Digital Green Certificate’ to help boost travel during the ongoing crisis

The proposed certificate is designed to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from it, or has received a negative test result.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

15 Mar 2021

The Commission will unveil the proposal to MEPs in Brussels on Wednesday, but the plan could run into opposition from those who are concerned it poses a data protection risk.

Commenting ahead of the debate, German member Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP group, said, “Now that vaccination in Europe is increasing, we must have a perspective to returning to the fundamental right of free movement and travel in Europe.”

“A vaccination certificate is a good way to do this. Unfortunately, however, we have already lost months debating this. The European Parliament should adopt these proposals as a matter of urgency,” he said.

However, a spokesman for the S&D group said on Monday that it “has a range of questions and concerns relating to the proposed certificates, including data protection rights and the impact on the Schengen area.”

The ongoing health crisis continues to dominate parliamentary proceedings this week and MEPs will also discuss how to deal with the economic fallout with the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Christine Lagarde.

The debate, on Thursday, takes place with members of the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee.

Lagarde is expected to explain how she intends to steer monetary policy over the next few months against the backdrop of an uncertain economic outlook.

Elsewhere, MEPs from the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE) will, on Tuesday, address the topic of violations of the rule of law in Poland.

“We must have a perspective to returning to the fundamental right of free movement and travel in Europe. A vaccination certificate is a good way to do this. Unfortunately, however, we have already lost months debating this. The European Parliament should adopt these proposals as a matter of urgency” Manfred Weber, EPP Group chairman

It is the latest parliamentary debate on the issue and, this time, they will focus on the situation of judges and prosecutors in light of reports of repression of both groups for defending the rule of law.

An EPP spokesman said it will call on the Commission to “take immediate action in order to prevent further repression and destruction of the personal lives of judges and prosecutors who defend the rule of law, the Polish Constitution and European law standards.”

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, and a representative of the Portuguese presidency of the EU council will take part in the discussion.

Also on Tuesday, the committee on transport and tourism will hold a vote on the updated European rules on rail passenger rights to better protect train travellers in case of delays, cancellations or discrimination.

The civil liberties committee will, also on Tuesday, look into possible changes and improvements that could be made to the General Data Protection Regulation, two years after its introduction.

On Wednesday, the specially convened foreign interference committee meets to discuss covert funding of political activities by foreign donors as a way to interfere in elections or referendum campaigns in the EU.

MEPs say that different rules and practices across the EU have resulted in “worrying loopholes and opaque ways of foreign bodies donating funds in elections.”

The former US Director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Christopher Krebs will give the keynote speech.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, ECR rapporteur Raffaele Stancanelli will present the draft of his initiative report on rebuilding fish stocks in the Mediterranean to the committee on fisheries.

A busy parliamentary committee programme comes to a close on Friday with the “European Summit against Racism,” hosted by the Intergroup of the European Parliament, the Portuguese Presidency and the Commission.

The event gathers government ministers, MEPs, and various stakeholders to send a strong signal against racism ahead of the International Day against Racial Discrimination (March 21).

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