Digital Green Certificate is the right move but speeding up vaccination is key 

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Most MEPs supported the Digital Green Certificate during today’s debate but warned that all efforts to recover will be void unless Europeans are vaccinated more quickly.

In a debate on the 25-26 March EU summit and the Digital Green Certificate with Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council, MEPs stressed the need to guarantee an adequate number of vaccines across the EU through a coordinated and unified approach. Some expressed their fear that the European Union’s credibility is at risk due to the mismanagement of vaccine contracts and the slow distribution of the jabs.

Several speakers referred to delays in delivering Astra Zeneca vaccines and to today’s discovery of almost 30 million doses in an Italian factory, with many speakers calling for legal action against the manufacturer. Others warned against an exports ban due to the risk of retaliatory measures that could result in further delays, with some highlighting that many poorer countries that are yet to receive a single dose would be unduly hurt by such a move.

The Digital Green Certificate proposed by the European Commission can help guarantee free movement within the European Union and support the much-needed recovery of the travel and tourism sector, a majority of the MEPs who took the floor said. However, some voiced concerns that those who have not been vaccinated may face discrimination, and highlighted the need to ensure highest standards of data protection.

MEPs also referred to relations with Turkey, with many calling for a tougher stance against its illiberal practices and condemning its withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on violence against women. On Russia, a similar tone prevailed, with some speakers calling for a more proactive stance in promoting European values and others reiterating the call for the Nord Stream 2 project to be discontinued. A few speakers also echoed President Sassoli’s solidarity to the MEPs targeted by Chinese sanctions and pointed out that the matter should also be on the summit agenda, with some asking for the continuation of trade talks to be made contingent upon China’s adherence to human rights.

Click on the names of the speakers to listen to their interventions:

Ana Paula ZACARIAS, for the Council

Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ for the Commission

Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)

Iratxe GARCÍA PÉREZ (S&D, ES)

Katalin CSEHS (Renew Europe, HU)

Nicolas BAY (ID, FR)

Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/European Free Alliance, BE)

Raffaele FITTO (ECR, IT)

Martin SCHIRDEWAN (The Left group in the European Parliament, DE)

You can catch up with the debate

Plenary will vote tomorrow on whether to apply the urgent procedure to the legislative proposal on the Digital Green Certificate.