The European Parliament has adopted a draft legislation about the digital green card, the European vaccine passport. Under the adopted proposal, only those who have been vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the EU Medicines Agency will benefit from the travel facilitation. Many Hungarians are opposed to the decision because it negatively affects many of them.
With 540 votes in favour, 119 against the decision and 32 abstentions, the European Parliament adopted its position on the Digital Green Card. Negotiations with the delegates of the European Commission and the European Council can now begin, writes 444.hu.
The system’s goal is to start operating by June, the start of the tourist season.
According to the Parliament, the card cannot be regarded as a travel document, so it does not function as a passport. The document shows that the person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, has a recent negative test result, or has been infected with the coronavirus. If you have a card, you could avoid the mandatory quarantine when you cross a country border, which would greatly help in simplifying travel. Members of the EP suggest that member states provide “universal, accessible, timely and free testing” for those who have not been vaccinated. According to the EP, this would prevent discrimination.
The Member States mutually agreed that only vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency would be subject to an EU vaccine passport.
In addition, it is up to the Member States to decide whether to accept other vaccines at the time of entry. At present, neither the Russian Sputnik nor the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has been authorised by the European Medicines Agency. According to this fact, about 1 million Hungarians vaccinated with these vaccines could be disadvantaged by the vaccine passport.
Among the Hungarian representatives, the representatives of Momentum, Fidesz, and KDNP all voted against the decision. The Democratic Coalition abstained. They think that it is necessary to start tourism; however, in its current form, it violates the interests of Hungarians. Márton Gyöngyösi, representing Jobbik, and István Ujhelyi, a socialist politician, supported the proposal. In a statement, Ujhelyi said that “I still maintain my position that there is only one way to resolve this situation in a reassuring way: if the Russian and Chinese vaccine manufacturers undertake an extraordinary examination and authorisation process by the EMA.”
Anna Donáth from Momentum has previously criticised the EP’s proposal. “Viktor Orbán’s vaccine procurement policy can rightly be criticised: he obtained vaccinations opaquely, overpriced, stuffing the pockets of his friend’s companies. He then led the whole vaccination campaign by incendiary and false propaganda, seeking only political gain from all his actions,” writes Donáth. She added, however, that Orbán is not equal to Hungary and Hungarians should not be punished for vaccinating themselves to protect the community. Donáth emphasises that even if the EU accepts the immunity card, it does not guarantee that it would enter into force in this way.