Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

07.24 28 Apr 2021


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MEPs in the European Parliament will vote today on the proposal for a digital green certificate.

The ‘COVID passport' would allow a return to the free movement of people across the EU this summer.

The digital cert would show whether someone has been fully vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the COVID-19.

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It would be accessible through someone's smartphone or device as a QR code, but there would also be a physical version for those without access to a smartphone.

After a year of severe restrictions, countries such as Greece and Spain are eager to see a return to European travel in time for the upcoming summer season.

However, Shona Murray of Euronews told Breakfast Briefing there are several issues that still need to be worked through.

She explained: “There are concerns around data protection - there’s a bit of a way to go to ensure the data can be protected.

“There’s also a concern - and MEPs will be debating this today - around discrimination. The rules of the single market is that freedom of movement is sacrosanct - the idea with these passports is there’s a concern that a person who hasn’t been vaccinated may be prevented from travelling.

“It’s not just the fact that some people can’t be vaccinated because the rollout is slow - there are people who are opposed to vaccination, and they will feel they’re being discriminated against for something that is their own decision.”

She noted that a physical copy of the pass would also be strong enough to ensure it couldn't be easily copied or faked.

The vote today, if passed, means negotiations would start between the European Parliament and European Council - i.e. the member states - on what the final implementation would look like.

There is some urgency to the process, given the push by some governments to have the system in place as soon as possible.

That will need to be balanced with the concerns around discrimination - with some member states already struggling to deal with significant levels of vaccine hesitancy.

Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews said the cert could be introduced in the next two months.

However, he added: “I have definite anxieties about whether all the member states will be ready to implement this at the end of June.

“Ireland might not be in a position to have the software and credentials in place at the end of June.”

Over the weekend, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told The New York Times fully-vaccinated tourists from the US and other countries may soon be allowed travel to the EU.

She said it will apply to those vaccinated with the jabs approved for use in the bloc - currently Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Main image:  People spend their leisure time on the beach in Majorca. Picture by: Clara Margais/DPA/PA Images

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