MEPs have decided to speed up the process approvals of green digital certificates so that they can be accepted until the summer, thus allowing safe free movement during a pandemic.
With 468 votes in favor, 203 against and 16 abstentions, MEPs voted in favor of the urgent procedure (Article 163) which allows for faster parliamentary scrutiny of the Commission's proposals while fully respecting democratic powers.
During the discussion on plenary session on Wednesday, a majority of lawmakers voiced support for the rapid establishment of a digital green certificate aimed at facilitating safe free movement in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several speakers stressed the need to ensure strong protection of personal and health data and warned that there should be no discrimination against unvaccinated people.
Digital green certificates could be accepted as early as June
The next plenary session (26-29 April) will adopt a position for negotiations with the Council, which may include amendments to the Commission proposal. The Committee on Civil Liberties, as responsible for this matter in the European Parliament, may request the return of the report in order to start negotiations. Parliament and the Council need to confirm the outcome of the negotiations between the co-legislators.
After the vote, the chairman of the Committee on Civil Liberties Juan Fernando López Aguilar said that we need digital green certificates to restore confidence in the Schengen area as the fight against the COVID-19 virus pandemic continues. “Certificates cannot be a precondition for free movement as it is a fundamental right in the European Union. Certificates also cannot lead to discrimination against those who do not have them. Citizens' data must be secure, and certificates should contain only the necessary data ", he added López Aguilar.
And again, it is important to emphasize that Covid passports are not and should not be the only condition for travel. It will still be possible to travel as last year as at present with the presentation of a negative PCR test or antigen tests approved in the European Union, and additionally with certificates of COVID 19 or vaccination, ie "covid passports".
Croatia is preparing all the conditions for easier arrival of tourists and the best possible tourist season
An important step in the preparations for the tourist season is to enable foreign citizens to cross the state border as easily as possible, which was announced yesterday at the press conference of the Civil Protection Headquarters by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Dr. sc. Davor Božinović.
"Tourists coming to Croatia, who have either been vaccinated, or have suffered from COVID or have a negative PCR or antigen test from the list of EU tests, will be able to enter the Republic of Croatia", Said Bozinovic, emphasizing that Croatia will implement these conditions in its decisions even before the final decision on digital green passes at the EU level.
"We are preparing for the season to be as good as possible, and it depends on all of us what it will be like. Not only at the level of the Headquarters and the Government, but at the level of every county, every city and municipality, and especially where tourism is the biggest part of the cake when it comes to the revenue side", Bozinovic emphasized.
/ / / In preparation for the season, the National Headquarters demands greater responsibility from the county headquarters. Logistics and infrastructure on the ground are key, and for that we need synergy
In addition to the announced decision, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, in cooperation with regional tourist boards and the Croatian Institute of Public Health, is already considering a model that would allow tourists to test rapid antigen tests and PCR testing at as many points in tourist destinations.
Also, in order to encourage all tourist stakeholders and all other stakeholders in the travel chain in the Republic of Croatia to adhere to epidemiological measures, and tourists get all the information about safety protocols and the epidemiological situation in Croatia, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports launched the Safe stay in Croatia project. up so far already involved more than 10.000 stakeholders from the tourism sector.
Tourism staff on vaccination priority list
At the end of January, the Ministry of Tourism sent an appeal to the Croatian Institute of Public Health to include tourism workers on the list of priorities for vaccination.
Currently in Croatia, the first phase of vaccination is nearing completion, in which priority was given to health professionals and users of homes for the elderly. The second phase is all persons over the age of 65 and all persons with chronic diseases, regardless of age, and finally, ie in the third phase, the vaccination of the entire population begins.
As Monika Udovicic pointed out, Director of the Directorate for the System of Tourist Boards, Categorization and Legal Affairs, tourism workers will be in the priority group when the vaccination starts in the third phase. ” We hope it will be mid-May. Tourist workers will be vaccinated in the third group, when the vaccination of the general population begins. We suggested that tourism workers be part of the third group. These are 50.000 to 60.000 vaccines for tourism workers"
As I have been saying since the beginning of the covid crisis, the perception of security and communication will play a key role. Although the tourist season depends on the epidemiological situation throughout Europe or our main emitting markets, as well as in our country, we ourselves must arrange everything and be absolutely ready to open the borders.