‘Huge lie!’ Macron sidekick Beaune attacked over latest EU-Franco plan on health passes

Grant Shapps outlines the 'way forward' for vaccine passports

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The French European Affairs minister told France 2 TV on Wednesday that the health pass will allow “harmonisation” across the whole of the European Union. The proposal was originally rejected in the National Assembly on Tuesday, before being adopted overnight.

Opposition members called for more dialogue.

Mr Beaune said: “It is not unusual to have debates on such a sensitive and important subject.”

“What will the health pass change?

“It will allow harmonisation. Last summer there was only cacophony in Europe.

“And rightly, there was no European coordination. We now try to anticipate and have the same tools everywhere.

“For example, airlines will be able to check your QR code on paper or your phone, in France, in Germany, in Spain…

“It will be the same system recognised by everyone.”

But the claim was promptly lambasted by Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois who accused the French minister of being a “liar”.

He said: “New huge lie from Clement Beaune.

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“The external health passport at the border is one thing. The internal health pass voted by the LREM godillots deputies is another.”

The health pass, which will come into effect from June 9, will provide proof that a person has either been vaccinated against the coronavirus, holds a recent negative PCR test, or is recovering from COVID-19 and therefore has natural antibodies.

The health pass was approved on a second vote in the early hours of Wednesday after the government shortened the transition period during which it will be able to re-impose restrictions such as a curfew without the permission of parliament once France’s state of emergency is lifted on June 2.

France has begun slowly unwinding a third national lockdown despite registering nearly 20,000 new cases every day and with intensive care wards still saturated.

On May 19, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service and shops, museums and cinemas will reopen. Three weeks later, places of worship and sports stadiums will be allowed to admit up to 5,000 people and foreign tourists will be allowed to visit the country.

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President Emmanuel Macron has said the health pass, which can be digital or paper-based, will curb the spread of the virus at events with crowds of more than 1,000 people.

It will not be used for every day venues such as restaurants and cinemas or for access to public transport.

The legislation, which will now be approved by the Senate, differs from proposals made in Brussels over common EU Green Certificate, or vaccine passport as some in the bloc have also called it.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Greek leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis have both been pushing for the certificates to be launched by June 21 as their countries’ economies rely heavily on tourism.

The Portuguese Council presidency is “very optimistic” that a deal on the certificates could be reached “as soon as possible”.

They said: “Ideally we want to find an agreement by mid-May.”

Along with vaccinations, the certificate will include information on an individual’s most recent Covid test results and the presence of antibodies.

To avoid delays, the EU will also open up the scheme to third country travellers while eurocrats hold talks with foreign governments to open up possible safe travel routes in the future.

European Commission officials say they are currently working on plans to recognise similar schemes being drawn up by the UK and US.

One said: “For third countries, technically it’s very simple.

“If there’s an agreement with a third country, then the public keys of the third countries can be loaded into the system and then given to the verifiers.”

Trials for the EU application will begin in the coming weeks with a pledge for the scheme to be up and running by the end of June.

The system is initially aimed at reopening free movement within Europe so will not automatically guarantee access to continental beaches.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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