European Commission president plans to introduce vaccine passports

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by David McLoone, LifeSite News:

BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – President of the European Commission (E.C.) Ursula von der Leyen yesterday announced via Twitter plans to introduce legislation which would bring about a “Digital Green Pass” for residents within the European Union to allow ease of travel.

The pass is intended to “facilitate Europeans lives” by providing “[p]roof that a person has been vaccinated,” “[r]esults of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet,” and “[i]nfo on COVID19 recovery,” all while allegedly respecting “data protection, security & privacy.”

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The proposal was met with mixed reviews by the 27 member states of the E.U., some of which, such as Greece, backed the plan, having already instituted their own “vaccine passport” program at the national level. Others, however, noted the potential for discriminations to emerge as a result of separating people at airports, for instance, based on the documentation.

The Greeks recently introduced COVID-19 vaccination certificates in the hope that it would facilitate tourism, a sector on which the country’s economy relies heavily. Minister of Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis said that the vaccine passports will work as a sort of “fast lane inside the airports … to have the opportunity to go to a different lane from those who haven’t been vaccinated,” but that without the E.U. adopting the infrastructure more broadly, the system will be “absurd.”

Von der Leyen said the digital green pass, should it be instituted, will be important to freedom of movement within the E.U. by “gradually” allowing citizens “to move safely in the European Union or abroad — for work or tourism.” She did not confirm whether such movement would or would not be possible without certification.

At the end of January, the U.K. (which is no longer part of the E.U.) announced that it is forging ahead with its own vaccine passport plan, funding the trial of eight passport schemes at a cost of £450,000 in government grants for the project.

Before the January announcement the government had relayed a series of mixed messages, at times committing to having “no plans to introduce so-called vaccine passporting,” and at other times suggesting there was no definitive rejection of the idea at government level, members of which were “looking at the technology.”

In mid-February, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hinted that, in addition to cross-border travel allowances, vaccine passports could be used domestically, as a barrier to entry even in supermarkets and pubs. Health Secretary Matthew Hancock subsequently shied away from suggesting they would be used domestically, but added his voice to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in describing a future where vaccine passports would become a standard requirement for international travel.

Spain, which is an E.U. member state, has revealed that it will also consider a vaccine passport infrastructure to accept vaccinated tourists from outside the E.U., with or without the E.C.’s permission. If agreements about Europe-wide travel “cannot be reached we will be thinking of other solutions like corridors, green corridors with third countries that can help us to restart tourism flows,” Spanish Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdés told Bloomberg.

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