Ljubljana – Slovenian MEPs expressed support for the joint procurement of coronavirus vaccines by the EU for member states at a debate organised by the European Parliament’s Office on Friday, but they were more reserved when it comes to the idea of a health passport for those who have already been vaccinated.
Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) noted that joint research funding and joint procurement were testimony to the EU’s importance and role, with Milan Zver (EPP/SDS) adding that bilateral purchasing would not have been prudent and that member states could now rely on joint purchases.
Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ) noted that joint procurement was the right path, but the EU Commission will have to take a step forward when it comes to the transparency of the vaccine purchase agreements, a point also raised by Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD)
There was more scepticism about a health passport.
Fajon is reserved since this could cause discrimination and raise issues concerning the protection of personal data, a position echoed by Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), who said this would be discriminatory to those who have not been vaccinated yet.
Grošelj pointed to the limitations of vaccines, which are currently approved for the over-16s and said that there should be an alternative such as rapid testing.
Bogovič meanwhile noted that solutions would be sought to simplify procedures so that those who have had Covid-19 or have been vaccinated would not have to be tested.
The debate also touched on free speech on social media and whether regulation was needed.
Fajon said a reform of the digital space was badly needed, whereas Zver said freedom of expression needed to take precedence, whereas regulators would encounter substantial problems in limiting the freedom of thought and speech.
Grošelj, meanwhile, noted it would soon have to be acknowledged that “regional internet networks” of the kind China has were on the horizon.
According to Bogovič, the crisis has laid bare how far behind the EU is in the development of digital platforms compared to the US and China and how much power the owners of these platforms have.