New York has become the first state to launch and offer a Covid-19 digital vaccination passport, which allows people to attend concerts and sports games. This comes in the form of an app that lets people prove they have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus or have recently tested negative. Others, at this stage, are not eligible for this pass, and it includes, for the vast majority, the unvaccinated or those who have not been tested recently. Israel has also implemented this pass and only those who have this pass can enter certain centres like gyms, studios, swimming pools, restaurants, cafes, hotels and cultural events.
Now Europe seems to be following suit since on 17th March 2021, the European Commission has proposed to create a Digital Green Certificate, which, according to the Commission, would allow and facilitate free movement inside the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic. This certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result or recovered from Covid-19.
On Thursday 28th April, the MEPs casted their votes as to whether they will accept the implementation of this digital vaccination passport or not. The outcome was already known before the vote was casted. Television Malta has already stated that this certificate will come into practice as from next month.
This gives rise to many concerns and questions. Firstly, is it a way to coerce people to take the vaccine? Truly, instead of allowing free movement, Europe is now imposing restrictions and conditions. Freedom of movement for all those in the EU territory was a right established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. By placing conditions on the EU citizens’ right to travel and move freely within EU, Article 3 (2) of this Treaty on EU (TEU) and Article 21, IV and V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) are being violated.
Secondly, this Green Pass violates Article 45 of the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union which states that “EVERY citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.”
Thirdly, I ask: if travellers will be allowed to produce a recent swab test result, then why the need for this passport? Might as well everybody has the normal passport and produce the negative result. Moreover, we have also read, even on local news portals, that some people who were vaccinated still tested positive for Covid-19, meaning that the vaccine’s goal of immunisation did not succeed and this turns this Green Certificate to null and void.
Fourthly, will it be costly to ask travellers to do a swab test, especially for those who need to travel frequently? Why are the swab tests no longer good? So, this position of the European Union is proving what had been stated about these swabs all along; they are not reliable. If they are reliable, there would not be a need for a mandatory green passports.
In truth, these green passports are not going to be an option. The EU is not accepting any self-tests, on the basis that they are not “performed in controlled conditions”. I wish to remind the readers that these self-tests were otherwise accepted in other contexts.