There were only two options. Either validate digital covid certificates… or allow Member States to (continue to) establish (each) their own restrictions separately and arbitrarily. I honestly believe, both options are bad but at the same time I am convinced that the second one is much worse and also more dangerous. That is the only reason why I voted in favour of introducing these certificates.

So… not because we will “return to normalcy” with these certificates, at least when traveling. I do not share this opinion. We will get back to “normalcy” when none of this is required anymore.

And even less because the certificate “will not be discriminating”. I do not share this opinion either. For the unvaccinated and those who have not recovered from the disease yet, the tests will not (necessarily) be free of charge, which is of course pure discrimination. However, do you know who is to blame for the fact that this condition – and another one that we unsuccessfully requested – is not in the regulation on the introduction of certificates? In this particular case, the European Parliament is not. It is the fault of the Member States (= governments).

It is therefore fair from me to explain in more detail why the introduction of certificates, in my view, is a lesser evil than the “solution” that would prevail otherwise.

In the European Parliament, in addition to free tests, we requested standardized and common criteria. We requested additional protection of personal data. We requested that the Member States should not add any (other) restrictions on the free movement of people at their national level. We requested a time limit of certificates to a maximum of one year. We requested a comprehensive report of the European Commission on the implementation of the system every three months.

What happened? We succeeded with some requirements (for example with common criteria, with protection, the time limit), but unfortunately not with the key ones, as the Council (= Member States) was not ready to give in to these negotiations: in free tests AT LEAST to obtain a certificate and in the PROHIBITION of imposing additional requirements or restrictions. Namely, the Council’s negotiators threatened the Parliament’s negotiators with the end of discussions and the consequent introduction of a separate system. Since this would have bypassed us and – I am sure – a much worse deal than the current one would be accepted, a compromise had to be reached. The negotiators have reached it by stating that testing must be “affordable”, by announcing that the European Commission will provide at least 100 million euros for it, and by an unfortunately non-binding assurance that countries should refrain from additional restrictions.

How the system will work in practice is currently not clear. I have quite a few doubts; simply because the situation is not the same across countries. Some, for example, already have testing free of charge, while others have higher prices for it than third parties, while fourth countries allow only PCR tests, and fifths also fast test. At this point, it should be emphasized that in the cases of the latter, these are not the wonderful and super useful tests that we have in Slovenia thanks to our ‘crypto boys’.

There is (still) a lot of illogicality, as well as ambiguity, but it is already clear at this point that the regulation does not take into account all the concerns. Although the majority of the responsibility lies with the Member States, I must clear up that in the European Parliament we are also partly responsible for the “result”, because we voted in favour of the regulation under an urgent procedure in March. I myself voted against at the time, as we took away the possibility of improving the regulation, we rejected a more thorough procedure that would allow an appropriate debate at parliamentary level. I wrote back then that these certificates would eventually become reality, and if we already knew they would, then we would at least form them in a way they would not deprive anybody’s rights.

I conclude that such and other comments will pour under this record. I have nothing against dignified expression of opinion but I have much against manipulation, misinformation, and ignorance, misuse of facts and distortion of the truth. That is why I will not engage in controversy and “persuading the convinced”. However, I will conclude exactly as I concluded in the note from March: The effectiveness of these certificates will depend on the confidence of citizens in it. The less there is trust, the less there will be a sense of responsibility and awareness, without which it simply will not go: no matter how we travel, in the end each of us will be the one to decide how to act. Wise or unwise. With or without certificates.

Irena Joveva



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