The European Union is proposing a digital vaccine certificate that it hopes to set up by the summer. This “Digital Green Certificate” will allow vaccinated and non-vaccinated EU citizens to travel freely between countries without being forced to quarantine.
Freedom of travel between member states
The Digital Green Certificate has been proposed to facilitate travel between member states as the lucrative summer tourism season approaches. The EU has stressed that it is not a “passport” as such, but a coordinated system to streamline efforts to clear citizens for travel. The proposal will require,
“… EU States to issue common, inter-operable and mutually-recognized certificates for COVID-19 vaccination, testing and recovery status that will facilitate free movement during the COVID pandemic and support the restart of travel.”
The certificate will consist of essential information, including name, date of birth, vaccination or test information, and a unique identifier name. Interestingly, certificates will be granted for proof of vaccination and negative tests, and to those who have contracted the virus and recovered from it. This would allow non-vaccinated citizens to travel without requiring a negative test result either.
EU members have been debating vaccine passports over the past few months, with varying levels of disagreement. Tourism-reliant nations, including Greece, have pressed heavily for vaccine passports to open up travel. However, detractors, including France, have claimed such a system will discriminate against those unable or last-in-line to get the vaccine.
Countries can choose which vaccines to allow
Another stumbling block in discussions involved which vaccine types will be permitted. The latest proposals will grant member states the right to choose which vaccines they will allow. All vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), including the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs, will automatically be accepted by member states.
However, some vaccines, including Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm jabs, haven’t been approved by the EMA but are being used in some countries, such as Hungary. Countries in the EU will be able to choose which vaccines to recognize. Crucially, the EU has clarified that member states will “not be forced to recognize non-authorized vaccines.”
Aviation leaders get behind the proposal
Several aviation associations, including Airlines for Europe (A4E), ACI EUROPE (Airports Council International), ASD (Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe), CANSO, European Regions Airline Association (ERA), and International Air Transport Association (IATA), have declared their full support for the Digital Green Certificate. In a statement, the associations,
“… call on the EU Council and the European Parliament to urgently approve the Commission proposal, and for all EU States to immediately begin preparations for their implementation.”
Aviation leaders declared that a safe restart of air travel is possible, but it requires the EU to “lead from the front.” They have stressed a coordinated response rather than “fragmented and patchwork” solutions, which put many people off traveling as requirements differ from nation to nation.
Are you in favor of a common digital health certificate across the EU? Do you think it will be implemented in time for the summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.