The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcome the Commission’s efforts to coordinate the lifting of national Covid-19 travel restrictions by introducing Digital Green Certificates as proof of vaccination, having had a recent negative test or having recovered from Covid-19. In scrutinising the legislative proposals, S&D MEPs will seek assurances that public health is not put in danger, but also that personal data and the freedom of movement across Europe, also in light of the upcoming summer tourist season, are equally protected and ensured.
Birgit Sippel MEP, S&D spokesperson on justice, home affairs and civil liberties, said:
“EU coordination of national Covid-19 travel restrictions is welcome in principle, especially after the patchwork of measures we have experienced for the past year. However, it remains to be seen if the Digital Green Certificates presented today represent the milestone we hoped for. Due to the impact on fundamental rights and the Schengen area, one of the greatest achievements of the EU, we still need to closely examine the proposals. The certificates must not introduce internal border controls through the back door by imposing conditions for border crossings in the Schengen area. We cannot discriminate when it comes to freedom of movement. Close scrutiny on the protection of personal data is essential, such as a person’s vaccination status or information on previous Covid-19 infections. The Commission wants data to be stored on the certificates so that national authorities have shared access, but we need clear rules on why the data is being collected, how data is used and who can access it. Finally, we want to see an expiry clause in the regulation that guarantees the certificates are only valid for a limited period of time.”
S&D vice-president responsible for health, Heléne Fritzon MEP, said:
“This proposal can improve coordination between member states, facilitating citizens to show vaccination, testing and recovery status for medical purposes. The risk of repeating last summer’s patchwork of different and uncoordinated initiatives among member states, which fragmented the internal market, must be avoided. That being said, we need more solid research and figures demonstrating the long-term immunity period ensured by vaccination or recovery to ensure the reliability of a future certificate. Overall, a common certificate should not create a system that increases the social divides which have worsened manifold during the pandemic, especially not in relation to access to public services and freedom of movement.”
First vice-chair of the transport committee and S&D spokesperson on tourism, István Ujhelyi MEP, added:
“Twenty-five million EU workers in the tourism industry are waiting to get back to normality and make a living again. All the services linked to transport and tourism have deeply suffered and cannot resist much longer. Reopening of all activities and the gradual return to travelling for tourism purposes in all safety is the only way forward to save a sector that produces billions of euros every year, and guarantees millions of jobs across Europe. Hence, we need a fast rollout of vaccines, sufficient vaccination and coordinated rules to ensure a real free movement. No European citizen should be disadvantaged or discriminated because of the individual decisions taken by national governments. We will work to make sure the European Digital Green Certificate and the European Tourism Union is the right answer.”