Can Member States Limit Certain Freedoms To Citizens Who Oppose Being Vaccinated

Can member states limit certain freedoms to citizens who oppose being vaccinated against covid-19? Can they force us to vaccinate? What does EU say about this?

Since the arrival of Covid-19 extreme measures, that limited our fundamental right to freedom of movement, from lockdown to the stoppage of all activities, have been taken. Nevertheless, with the starting Covid-19 vaccination campaign in all the countries, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

However, again we are witnesses of severe limitations imposed by the Member States. Until recently, nobody has imagined that they could prohibit us from entering certain places for refusing to be vaccinated against covid 19 or not being totally vaccinated yet.

 

Now, holding a certificate that proves vaccination or previous recovery from the virus has become new normality.

 

The EU Digital Covid Certificate has a QR code that contains essential information and a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.

 

Numerous Member States have imposed limitations on the unvaccinated ones to protect public health and avoid an outbreak of infection cases. Austria, Luxembourg, Italia, France, Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, Portugal and Slovenia, everyone from a different starting date, the only fully vaccinated persons, those who can prove they were immunized, infected recently with Covid-19, as well as those who can present negative Covid-19 test results, will be eligible to enter places public spaces like restaurants, hotels, museums, zoos, cinemas, events, public transportations, school, Universities, gyms, etc.

 

We cannot deny that this is a severe threat to the right of free movement of persons. Freedom of movement of persons in the EU, established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, is one of the most UE valuable and significant achievements. Notwithstanding the importance of this right, it faces numerous obstacles and existential threats like public security, public policy, public health grounds and now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the extreme measures took by the Member States, this right is being subjected to extensive violations.

 

The freedom of movement is a high right recognized in Article 45 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, where it is clear that “every citizen of the Union has the right to move … freely within the territory of the Member States and that the freedom of movement should be granted, in accordance with the Treaties…”.

 

Article 3(2) of the Treaty of the European Union establishes that “The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures …”. However, we have witnessed a lot of inappropriate and non-effective measures. 

 

Article 21(1) of the Treaty on Functioning of the EU from its part, set up that “Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move… within the territory of the Member States, subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in the Treaties and by the measures adopted to give them effect”.

 

Nowadays, there are still some people that are against being vaccinated;. However, it is about freedom of choice, and the vaccine is not mandatory; there is indeed misinformation, false propaganda toward the vaccine and even some health authorities in some countries did not give enough and transparent information about the Covid-19 vaccine, which led to this rejection by a large part of the EU population.

 

Unity, transparency, and clarity of the EU’s vaccines strategy are needed because if many people reject being vaccinated, then there is something wrong with administering vaccines and information strategy. There is a lack of transparency, so it is required to create public trust in vaccines and fight disinformation.

 

Still, they will face a lot of obstacles and limitations to access some public spaces. And for those who have the right to choose and they are against being vaccinated, the EU had taken the necessary measures so that people who are not vaccinated will not be discriminated against to travel and access to public spaces, but for that, they need a Covid-19 test before entering any public room. However, they will be facing another problem with the high prices of those tests and the inconvenience of getting tested every time they need to enter a supermarket, restaurant, hotel, public transportation…What will make the usual daily activities difficult? 

 

Are those measures proportional? There is a limit in the steps to protect the right of freedom of movement? Are those measures according to law? We have two interests to watch, public health and the free movement of persons.

 

This is the same reality and a common problem, so there must be equal, lawful and proportional measures from all the countries and the EU Member States because no country will be safe and no economy will correctly recover until the virus is under control in all continents.

 

It is necessary to choose the least restrictive measures that do not harshly violate and limit the right of freedom of movement and choice.

 

 [1] https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/covid-19-health-passes-for-accessing-public-spaces-becoming-the-norm-in-eu-16-countries-implement-such-requirements/

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