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Manfred Weber Backs Mitsotakis' Plan for an EU Vaccination Certificate

Αssociated Press

Manfred Weber who heads the European Parliament's biggest group, delivers a speech during a European People's Party (EPP) Group Bureau Meeting in Athens, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo)

BRUSSELS -- The year begins with one sole issue, the coronavirus, said the head of the European Peoples Party (EPP) parliamentary group Manfred Weber, briefing the press here on Wednesday.

Weber expressed his support for the proposal made by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for a vaccination certificate, adding that the alternative to a European approach through this certificate would be fragmentation along national lines, where everyone approaches the issue in their own way. "With freedom of movement in Europe in mind, it is important to have a European approach to this," he said.

Yestrday, PM Mitsotakis sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and to all EU heads of state and government, in which he outlined a proposal for a standardised digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate.

Mitsotakis pointed out that ensuring the quickest possible re-establishment of freedom of movement within the EU but also with third countries "is, of necessity, a fundamental priority for us all.”

For this reason, he added, Greece has moved fast and implemented procedures to facilitate the movement of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. An important step in this direction, he said, was to create a standard model on how to structure such a certificate, which will prove that the specific person has been successfully vaccinated, he said in his letter.

Mitsotakis attached a draft of such a certificate designed by Greek authorities for this purpose, which will be used when boarding all modes of long-distance travel, whether by sea, air, road or rail.

He clarified that, while Greece does not intend to make vaccination compulsory or a prerequisite for travel, "persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.”

A certificate, he also said, would further “ provide a positive incentive for ensuring that citizens are encouraged to undergo vaccination,” which was the only way to ensure a return to normality.