After weeks of wrangling, the EU member states appear ready to agree on the introduction of a digital Covid-19 vaccination passport which may be in place across the Union as early as March, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
“As for the question of what the digital green passport could look like: we will submit a legislative proposal in March,” she said in a video conference with German lawmakers.
The Commission’s president later wrote on twitter:
We’ll present this month a legislative proposal for a Digital Green Pass. The aim is to provide:
•Proof that a person has been vaccinated
•Results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet
•Info on COVID19 recovery
It will respect data protection, security & privacy
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 1, 2021
Speaking during a press conference on Monday, the Commission’s VP Margaritis Schinas said the initiative is expected to be submitted to the European Parliament on March 17.
“We shall present an initiative on 17 March focusing on travel and mobility: Digital green passes including information on vaccination, test results and statements of recovery; respecting data protection, security and privacy. Safe opening that preserves all sacrifices done so far,” Schinas later wrote on Twitter.
EU leaders discussed the idea last week during a video conference. Von der Leyen referred to the vaccination passport idea after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it could take up to three months to get a vaccination passport system rolling in time for summer.
“In the future, it will certainly be good to have such a certificate but that will not mean that only those who have such a passport will be able to travel; about that, no political decisions have been made yet,” said Merkel, adding that it was too early in terms of vaccination figures across the EU to consider introducing the digital passport.
The vaccination passport idea was initially tabled by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in January, with the aim to enable the restart of travel and support EU economies, particularly of Southern countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus, which rely heavily on tourism.
Meanwhile, more people and leaders are warming up to the idea of a vaccination passport, as revealed by a YouGov study carried out on behalf of German news agency dpa, which found that 60 percent of all Germans are in favor of a so-called “green passport” as is currently implemented in Israel, or of a certificate that will serve as proof of vaccination and will help curb the spread of the deadly virus during travel. Against the idea are 35 percent of Germans.
Meanwhile, Greece has reiterated that travelers wishing to visit the country this summer will not be required to hold a health certificate and will be allowed admission with a negative PCR test. It should be noted, however, that Greece is already in negotiations with a number of countries for the mutual exchange of tourists who hold digital vaccination certificates.