Members of the European Parliament have voted to extend the vaccine passport program until June 2023, despite the fact that the controversial measures that eroded civil liberties during the pandemic are winding down in other areas.
The plan was approved by 432 votes, with 130 voting against it and 23 abstentions. It is now awaiting approval by the European Council.
Before the vote, the president of the parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar noted that “the pandemic is not over,” further arguing that a “time-limited extension is reasonable.”
Objecting the 12-month extension of the health pass, Italy’s League Party’s Annalisa Tardino said it is “harming the fundamental rights of our citizens.”
“We’re all back here in plenary, we’re all here voting in person, we’re not wearing any mask and we didn’t need a certificate,” she argued.
In an effort to re-open borders ahead of the summer, an important period for many EU members because of tourism, the EU launched the COVID pass. It shows whether a person has been vaccinated, tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus.
However, only 9 countries in the region still require the pass to enter their borders. Still, in some countries, the pass is required to access some venues.
The regulation passed last week will require the European Commission to assess whether the pass is still “necessary and proportionate six months after its extension.”
In a statement the European Parliament said: “MEPs want to keep the period in which the Regulation applies as short as possible and repeal it as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.”