Yesterday, on Tuesday 8th June 2021, a large majority of the members of the European Parliament voted for the introduction of the COVID Certificate. This vote came after a thorough negotiation between the European Parliament, the Member States and the European Commission. In those negotiations, we, as Greens, addressed many of the concerns that we received from several thousand citizens and managed to secure substantial improvements, which is why yesterday, we voted for the COVID Certificate.
With the EU Digital COVID Certificate, every European citizen can now certify their vaccination status, recent Covid-19 test results or a recent recovery from Covid-19 infection in a EU-wide uniform way. This facilitates the return of free movement in Europe in a COVID-safe manner. It ends the patchwork of different certificates and rules in the EU. Especially now at the beginning of the summer break, that is really good news for the EU citizens as well as the tourist sector, which in many regions is the key pillar for the local economy.
As Greens, we managed to guarantee important rights in the negotiation with the Member States and Commission. Most importantly, we insisted that the COVID Certificate would show all three, vaccination status, test results and a recent recovery from COVID. That way, it is up to each citizen to choose their preferred mode of regaining full access to their right of free movement.
Furthermore, the certificate must meet the highest standards for privacy. Data on the certificate may not be stored when it is scanned and travel movements cannot be tracked. We will closely monitor if Member States will respect these safeguards, and if they will not impose additional travel restrictions without a very urgent and evidence-based reason. At the same time, wherever necessary, protection measures such as masks and distancing will remain in place to prevent new infections.
One big conflict between the Parliament and the Member States was the cost for COVID tests. We demanded to make testing free throughout the EU, since this is one requirement for safe travel, especially for those that cannot be vaccinated for health reasons or have not had the chance to get vaccinated yet. The Member States blocked our proposal for free tests. As a compromise, we succeeded in securing at least 100 million euros to make testing more affordable. But we continue to press for more money to be made available to ensure that all citizens once again can travel across the EU on equal terms.
It is now on the Member States to implement the COVID Certificate quickly and in accordance to the strict rules that were agreed upon, so that this Summer, Europe can open up in a safe and equal manner after 1.5 years of the pandemic.
With European regards