After long and tough negotiations, the EU legislators today found an agreement on the design of the EU Digital Covid Certificate regulation. The agreement enshrines Renew Europe's commitment to swiftly restoring freedom of movement, saving tourism and restarting the economy while also keeping Covid-19 in check.
Dacian Cioloş, President of Renew Europe, says: “We welcome this agreement on the digital covid certificate which establishes common and non-discriminatory rules. This certificate is very much expected by all those who need to travel for their work, such as cross-border workers and transport workers. European citizens will soon be able to travel again and plan their summer holiday with confidence.”
He continues: “In this negotiation, our group particularly insisted on access to affordable testing. This is important for all Europeans who will still be waiting to be vaccinated in the coming weeks and months. They too must be able to travel. We welcome an easy to understand system. It was important not to add new administrative burden to citizens and businesses. The price must not be a barrier for all those with limited financial means. It is a question of social justice at a time when the health crisis has increased inequalities.”
Renew Europe is proud that the European Parliament has managed to secure EU funding of 100 million euros for free of charge testing for the purpose of the certificate for specific groups, such as persons who cross borders frequently for work or school or taking care of family. It will help to restore citizens' fundamental right to free movement while also avoiding discrimination.
Additionally, Member States shall refrain from additional travel restrictions, such as quarantine or additional testing, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health. This clause still allows member states to impose restrictions, but Parliament will be monitoring on a daily basis how the Regulation is implemented in practice.
Sophie in 't Veld, Renew Europe's negotiator, adds: “The European Parliament worked on this proposal with only one consideration: what do Europeans need in order to travel again freely and safely? It secured financial support to people for whom the cost of testing is too high. People with low incomes have already been hit hardest. Think about the healthcare workers and all the other people who need a break, and want to travel abroad. Or people working across borders or with family across borders. That is why this proposal is supported by the European Parliament and the people of Europe. It’s disappointing that national governments do not.”
The European Parliament has been united in its aim to make life easier for EU citizens. Accordingly, we pushed the Member States governments to take a more ambitious European stance, including providing free tests to all EU citizens for the purpose of Covid Certificates. The refusal of Member States to put an end to the patchwork of measures and to put the interest of citizens first is disappointing, and we urge Member States to refrain from imposing additional restrictions.
However, the overall compromise on a single European certificate will help our citizens to travel freely within the EU again. European citizens' count on us to deliver a solution, and with this deal, the European Parliament has delivered legislation on time to be fully rolled out by the summer season.
Once the provisional agreement is approved by the plenary in June, we count on the Member States to swiftly make the certificates operational in every country. Those member states that are still not ready to roll out the issuance of certificates will be granted a maximum of six weeks to do so. However, they shall recognise certificates issued by other Member States during that period and we call on them to keep it to minimum.
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