Friday

22nd Oct 2021

Agenda

EU plan for vaccine 'certificates' This WEEK

  • With summer holidays approaching, the EU Commission is keen to roll out its proposals for 'vaccine certificates' (Photo: European Commission)

The EU Commission on Wednesday (17 March) is expected to unveil its proposal on vaccine certificates ahead of the summer holiday season.

The certificate is meant to prove that the person carrying the so-called "digital green certificate" has been vaccinated against Covid-19, or has recovered from it, or has a negative test result.

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There are a lot of uncertainties about how the certificates will work, but the commission is keen to argue that they will not be discriminatory and vaccination will not be a pre-condition of free movement.

Another tricky issue is whether the certificate will recognise vaccines not approved by the EU regulator.

Hungary has been using the Russian and Chinese vaccines that have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other countries have also looked into using Russia's Sputnik V.

The commission wants to get the technical and legal aspects of the certificate ready in time for summer to avoid bilateral and side deals among member states that could fracture the EU and its freedom-of-movement principle.

On Monday (15 March), MEPs in the environment committee will hold a discussion on Covid-19 variants and the vaccines' efficacy against them.

MEPs will hear from Dr Marco Cavaleri, head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy and chair of the Covid-19 Emergency Task Force at EMA, Dr Bruno Ciancio from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Dr Katherine O'Brien from the World Health Organization.

At the debate, the commission will present its plans for health emergency preparedness (HERA), which aims to mobilise all EU capabilities and resources to respond to potential variants.

On Tuesday (16 March), EU health ministers will discuss the universal use of face masks and testing requirements for mobility within the EU.

ECDC director Andrea Ammon will give an update on the current situation in the EU, and EMA executive director Emer Cooke will brief ministers on vaccine authorisation and development.

Dutch vote

Starting on Monday, the Dutch will go to the ballot stations until Wednesday to elect a new parliament after prime minister Mark Rutte's government resigned in January after thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud and told to pay money back.

But Rutte is likely to return as PM after the election, as his liberal-conservative party VVD is leading in polls.

Threats

On Monday, MEPs in the foreign affairs committee will hear from Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on how the EU and the military alliance can better respond to security challenges together. They will also talk about hybrid threats and disruptive technologies.

On Wednesday, MEPs on the committee on foreign interference will debate the risks and dangers of online democracy with former MEP Marietje Schaake, now at Stanford University.

They will also hear from former cyber risk officer in the Estonian government Liisa Past, now at the Estonian company Cybernetica, and constitutional law expert Rafael Rubio of Complutense University in Madrid.

Judges

On Tuesday, the civil liberties committee will hear from justice commissioner Didier Reynders, the Portuguese EU presidency and the Polish authorities on alleged violations of the rule of law in Poland.

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.

The committee on Monday will discuss the situation of Frontex, the EU's border agency, with home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri and chair of the Frontex management board Marko Gašperlin.

Leggeri has come under fire following allegations of illegal pushbacks at sea between Greece and Turkey.

Leggeri has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing but the agency is also facing scrutiny from the EU's anti-fraud agency, Olaf, over issues related to harassment.

On Monday, foreign affairs and home affairs ministers will hold a debate on the external aspects of the EU's migration policy, under the new proposal by the commission on migration and asylum.

Money talk

On Thursday (18 March) MEPs in the economic committee will quiz ECB president Christine Lagarde on addressing the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

MEPs will want to hear how Lagarde is planning to steer monetary policy in the next few months against the backdrop of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Frontex's 'serious incident reports' - revealed

Out of the seven serious incident reports shared with this website, five deal with allegations against Greek authorities, while the remainder describe separate incidents in Germany and Hungary.

Stakeholder

Vaccine certificates are a way to reopen Europe, not close it

A common vaccination certificate – instead of 27 individual initiatives - can form part of the solution, together with other sanitary measures already in place, to resume travel and tourism and reduce current travel restrictions.

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Vaccine roll-outs, energy prices, migration and an upcoming climate summit will top the agenda at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, while MEPs in Strasbourg tackle rule of law.

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