EU Parliament takes first steps towards vaccine passport, despite free movement concerns
The European Parliament this afternoon approved a proposed regulation from the Commission for the introduction of vaccine certification across all member states. The approval by the majority of MEPs means that the Commission can bypass the normal legislative process. It will be known as a Digital Green Certificate.
Contrary to the impression given by some Irish MEPs and mainstream media, the proposal was by no means unanimously supported. The vote was passed by 468 to 203 and many MEPS raised concerns about the issues of further curtailments of liberty that it involves.
Indeed among those who opposed the fast tracking were Ciaran Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan of the Greens, Chris McManus the Sinn Féin MEP, and independents Clare Daly, Ming Flanagan and Mick Wallace. All of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil MEPs voted for the proposal.
The stated rationale for the Regulation is the lack of standardisation across member states regarding the testing and quarantine requirements for people travelling within the EU, or to or from countries outside of the bloc. The Digital Green Certificate (DGC) would therefore co-ordinate all of this and turn it into an EU responsibility to be designed and enforced centrally.
The measure is carefully framed to ensure that the importation of labour from outside of the EU is not impeded by further restrictions on member state citizens. You won’t be able to leave Ireland without a cert, but tech corporations and others will continue to fly in uncertified non EU citizens. Specifically, the proposal states that the Regulation “should not be understood as facilitating the re-introduction of border controls.”
There is the usual gratuitous reference to “Subsidiarity” – the alleged pre-condition that the Commission only assumes control over member state policy in exceptional circumstances – whenever the Commission is encroaching further on the sovereignty of the member states.
It is also to be noted that the proposal is pitched dishonestly as designed to facilitate “the exercise of free movement,” when of course it is proposing to do exactly the opposite. Except of course, as noted, when it comes to placing no barriers to mass immigration of cheap labour.
Article 3 states that the DGC will confirm that the holder has received a vaccination, will include the results of any tests, and will confirm recovery if a test was positive. Article 10 provides the Commission with the power to request further information from the issuing member state if required.
Basically, then, the Digital Green Certificate will function as a second passport. Except that this one will contain all of the mandated medical information. Children are not – as yet, we should probably say – eligible for vaccination. Nonetheless, they too will be required to provide test and recovery certification.
Apart from the Orwellian misuse of the term “freedom of movement,” there is another potentially dangerous element to the proposal. This is contained in Article 14 where it is stated that the requirement for certification will last until at least one year after the Director General of the World Health Organisation has declared that the Covid panic is over.
Not only do we have no idea as to what criteria that deeply suspect organisation might use to determine that, but there is no evidence despite the irrational rantings of the Zero Covid fanatics, that the virus will ever disappear. No more than has malaria or recurring lethal variants of the flu.
And therein lies another danger because as Barrister Tracey O’Mahony points out, the proposal contains a provision that the regulation could be kept in place or revived should any other similar health scare occur.
As stated above almost one third of those who voted, including six of the MEPs from the Republic, rejected the proposal. So does this mean that over 200 of Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald’s colleagues are the victims of the “misinformation” and dodgy “algorithms” that she claimed were responsible for those Irish voters who had the temerity to contact their MEPs over the issue? Or that the other six MEPs who did pay attention are part of the “tinfoil hat brigade?”
Listening to constituents is the sort of thing elected representatives are meant to do, rather than rubber stamp proposals.
The proposal does indeed set a dangerous precedent in which such a fundamental right as freedom of movement can be made dependent on bureaucratic decree. Of course, anyone who has watched the inexorable diminution of Irish sovereignty over the past 50 years will not be surprised at any of this. Nor at the compliance of our political “elite” who would have answered Connolly’s bold assertion about serving neither King nor Kaiser with an amendment to exclude some faceless and unelected bureaucrat in Brussels.
And certainly not astounded, once again, at the impression given that only a few oddballs among hundreds of millions of Europeans share the concerns that were expressed by over 200 of our MEP’s less supine colleagues, including six elected in the Republic.