EU unveils plans for vaccine passport by summer
The European Commission has today proposed the introduction of Covid passport to allow 450 million Europeans to travel freely by summer. In the coming months, however, the exact form of the passports will have to be agreed by the Member States, which have not yet agreed on, for example, the mutual recognition of tests.
As the commission calls the certificate, the digital green certificate will be based on three criteria that will have the same weight: vaccination, negative PCR or antigen test, and the presence of antibodies in the body. According to the proposal, each Member State will decide on the conditions for certificate holders, but they will have to be the same for all people.
“Our main goal was to prepare a user-friendly, non-discriminatory and secure tool that will fully ensure data protection,” said EC Vice-President Věra Jourová. The passport should contain only the name, date of birth, date of issue, and vaccination, test, or illness details. The authorities of the countries will be obliged to issue it free of charge.
There has been a significant debate on the commission on whether to allow countries to recognize vaccines that are not yet authorized in the EU. Such as Russia’s Sputnik V. politicians are also debating in the Czech Republic. According to today’s proposal, all countries will only have to recognize vaccines approved in the Union, “but the Member States will be able to decide whether to accept other vaccines also.”
The EU executive has emphasized that the certificate will not discriminate against people who cannot or do not want to be vaccinated. Simultaneously, the movement of those who will not have a passport should not be restricted.
The certificate should exist in digital and paper form. For people to start using it before the summer tourist season, it must be approved by the Member States and the European Parliament. Although it has the support of most countries in southern and central Europe, including the Czech Republic, lengthy discussions are expected between the states on the certificate’s specific details.
For example, states have been unsuccessfully arguing over tests’ mutual recognition for more than half a year. To successfully introduce a passport, they will also need to agree on how long to consider people immune after vaccination or illness.
After the February videoconference, the EU countries’ leaders spoke about the fact that they would like to agree on the details of the certificate within three months. A large number of MEPs also show a quick effort to reach an agreement. “A single document on vaccination, immunity, or a negative test is a chance to help not only the economy but also cross-border workers and families living on both sides of the border.
Unilateral measures taken by 27 states are not a solution in Schengen,” group in the EP, which wants to seek the document’s approval as soon as possible. Many countries have already indicated that they will introduce their certificates if the joint solution proposal fails.
The EU-wide passport is also supported by legislators of other parties, some of whom point out its possible future use to enter cultural or sports events. “In this respect, I am in favor of each state deciding on its further use. It has determined where and under what conditions the passport can be used. It has assessed all risks,” said EP Vice-President Dita Charanzová from the Liberal faction.
According to the commission, the passport should be valid only temporarily until the World Health Organization declares the covid pandemic’s end.