Ahead of the European Parliament’s voting on the COVID-19 ‘Digital Green Certificates’.
Via Belfast lawyer Ciarán McCollum (full article at link below)
Freedom of movement is perhaps the European Union’s most cherished achievement, certainly among northerners seeking a visa-free sun holiday. In my home of Northern Ireland, with our ever-fragile cross-border peace agreement, we have a special appreciation for the importance of keeping borders open.
The recent EU threat to impose a ‘vaccine border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic imperilled that peace. The EU can’t afford another blunder on borders, so it’s in its own interest that the DGC does what it says on the tin.
However a cursory glance at the contents suggests a case of mislabeling or at least a lack of legal certainty.
The commission assures us that the DGC will not restore (or entrench) border controls. But “universal framework” can only be read as a euphemism for checks within the Schengen zone. It is article 3 of the DGC that creates certificates of vaccination, testing and immunity.
Border guards will have to inspect these.
As it’s put in Article 3(1), there will be “cross-border verification”, performed by the member state “authorities” mentioned in Article 9(2). In the absence of such checks, the certificates would be useless and the “universal framework” would not exist.
With vaccinated Europeans travellers separated from non-vaccinated, infected from non-infected, and immune from non-immune—the DGC, if applied, would be a guarantee of discrimination within the EU.
This is simply not permissable under the Schengen Code. Chapter II of the Schengen Borders Code allows for the temporary reintroduction of internal borders in some circumstances, but that does not include a public health emergency.
The whole endeavour is even more absurd if one acknowledges the scientific certainty that being vaccinated does not mean that one cannot be a carrier of the virus, nor infect others.
…The explanatory memorandum calls freedom of movement one of the EU’s “most cherished achievements” and a “driver of its economy”.
It is also a driver of peace in my home. The Northern Irish remain citizens of Europe without the Union, and will not accept being checked upon entry into what about a million of them consider their home: the neighbouring member state of Ireland. The prospect of violence is terrible.
Despite these risks and contrary to the recently introduced Better Regulation Rules, the DGC controls are being rushed through with nary a cost–benefit analysis, impact assessment or public consultation—and with limited parliamentary debate….(more at link below).
Ciarán McCollum is a Northern Irish barrister, advising on European law.