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2nd Mar 2024

Agenda

Brexit is back, and vaccine certificates in focus This WEEK

  • The Ankara seating arrangements embarrassingly suggested EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen - the first woman to hold this position - was not equal to European Council president Charles Michel (centre left, with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Er (Photo: European Union, 2021)

It was supposed to have happened two months ago, but on Tuesday (27 April), MEPs will finally vote to ratify the agreement between the EU and the UK on their future relationship.

The agreement has been provisionally in force since January, but final ratification was up to the European Parliament.

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MEPs will also insist on the full implementation of the separate divorce deal, whose parts on governing trade regarding Northern Ireland have been put on hold by the UK.

Negotiations with the EU are ongoing on how to solve the conundrum that has fed into escalating violence over recent weeks among sectarian factions in the province.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will also participate in the debate on the EU-UK relationship.

Covid travel

On Wednesday (28 April), MEPs will debate and vote on the EU Commission's proposal on so-called 'digital green certificates', EU jargon for Covid-19 certificates aimed at making traveling on the continent seamless by the summer.

Once MEPs give the green light, member states also need to ratify plans in order to get the scheme underway, which will document information on carrier's vaccination status.

The program also requires massive technical work, as member states need to be able to share information in real-time at airports, and border crossings where checks are still happening.

Traveling will be possible without a certificate as well, with a negative Covid-19 test or if the person has just recovered from the infection.

On Monday (26 April), the parliament will also adopt a new procedure to speed up approval of vaccines adapted to new Covid-19 variants.

On Tuesday, MEPs will discuss the future of tourism, hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 11 percent of all jobs in the EU are in hotels, travel agencies, or other recreational activities.

Sofa discussion

The commission chief and the European Council president Charles Michel on Monday will also give their assessments of their joint visit to Ankara on 7 April.

The two are expected to address the issue of 'Sofagate' - when in Ankara, von der Leyen was not provided equal treatment to Michel in a photo opportunity with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Michel was also criticised for not standing up for von der Leyen.

On Wednesday, MEPs will also debate Russia opposition figure Alexei Navalny's imprisonment and treatment.

They will also discuss the Russian military build-up on the Ukraine border as well as the recent row between the Czech Republic and Russia that has led to the expulsion of several Russian diplomats from EU countries.

MEPs are also set to give the go-ahead on Thursday to new rules preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The new rules will oblige internet platforms to remove flagged content or disable access to it in all member states within one hour of a request.

MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'

While most MEPs have been vocal in support of the proposal by the European Commission for EU-wide vaccine certificates, key questions remain - ranging from fundamental rights, to its scientific validity.

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Opinion

Legal worries on EU's 'green certificates' for Covid travel

With the prospect of rolling non-lethal pandemics, and border-checks based primarily on vaccination status, the assertion in the EU's 'green certificate' memorandum that the proposal "cannot be interpreted as establishing an obligation or right to be vaccinated" seems disingenuous.

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