Friday, 7 May 2021
European Digital Green Certificate: Statements
I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, who is a very active European Minister. I am sure when he took up the position, he did not think we would still be dealing with Covid at this stage. We will be dealing with Covid for a long time. As Senator Chambers said, and I thank her for sharing time with me, the digital green certificate will facilitate people's fundamental right to move and reside freely within the EU. It should be remembered that this Sunday is Europe Day. When I look at the flags in the foyer of Leinster House, it makes me think about the importance of Europe from this perspective.
Unfortunately, Covid has forced us to do things differently. That is why we have to proceed with the digital green certificate which, as Senator Chambers and the Minister of State said, we will have to keep under review. We do not know for how long we will need these certificates but I hope it will not be for too long. The Government is very keen to ensure that every effort is made to achieve alignment across the EU in preparing for the reopening of international travel. That is important. As Senator Chambers said, we are an island country that relies on people coming here. We have done well in recent years in terms of visitor numbers, so international travel is very important. We have to be cautious and careful. At all points, we have to remember the importance of keeping out Covid as much as we can.
I will conclude by making three very brief points about the confusion there is about this certificate, sometimes on social media and sometimes when meeting people. I spent a good while yesterday evening with people in my locality who fed me so many untrue lines about it. I showed them the document from the European Commission to point out some facts. In March, the Commission proposed:
to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate.
When I pointed this out, people had a completely different understanding of the digital green certificate.
As we emerge from the pandemic, the Fianna Fáil Party will work for a revitalised Europe, one which is stronger, more effective and has the assurance to show that now, more than ever, it is the only way forward to peace, progress and security for Ireland and the other democracies of Europe. It must be remembered that freedom of movement is a fundamental pillar of the EU.