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Regulation on the Vaccine Passport: English language privilege: GEM+ amendment proposal

April 20, 2021 8:51 am Published by





GEM+ (For a Multilingual European Governance), whose members come from different European Union (EU) Member States, aims to promote multilingualism in the EU institutions. The association thus opposes any unilingual hegemony. The European legislator is currently debating the proposal for a Regulation on the Vaccine Passport (Digital Green Certificate) – 2021/0068 (COD). This will consist of three certificates containing simple information, such as the name of the holder, the name of the vaccine and the date of vaccination. Article 3.2 of the proposal states that “…The information contained in the certificates…. Shall be at least, in the official language or language(s) of the issuing Member State and in English”. According to Jean-Luc Laffineur, a 50-year-old French-Italian lawyer and president of GEM+, “to our knowledge, this is the first time that the European Commission has privileged one language over the others. If this article is adopted in its current form, the authorities of the Member States will be obliged to issue documents also in English, even if English is not their official language. This constitutes an infringement of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality”. According to Pierre Luc Vervandier, 34, French lawyer in a Brussels representative office, “it is regrettable that the European Commission is unaware that other languages, such as German and French, are as well known in the EU as English”“It is not necessary to prevent those Member States who wish to do so from translating future European certificates into English, but it is necessary to recognise the most widely spoken mother tongues in the European Union. Forcing all Member States to issue certificates in English would destroy the recognition of linguistic diversity mentioned in the Treaties and the valorisation of languages within the European space, which in the long run would be detrimental to the construction of a political Europe” adds Michael Thaidigsmann, 47 years old, a German freelance journalist in Brussels.

For all these reasons, GEM+ proposes that Article 3.2 of the current Proposal for a Regulation be amended as follows:

“…The information contained in the certificates shall also be presented in a human readable form and, at least, in the official language(s) of the issuing Member State without prejudice to Member States to also issuing such certificates in at least two official languages of the European Union, one of which shall be chosen from the five most widely spoken mother tongues in the European Union”.


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