The European Commission is scheduled this week to submit its proposal to the European Parliament for the establishment of an EU-wide digital vaccination certificate to facilitate safe travel in the post-Covid-19 era.
“The aim is to facilitate safe free movement of citizens in the EU,” the Commission recently tweeted, having said that the digital certificates will meet data protection, security and privacy requirements.
Speaking on the Grand Rendez-vous show of France’s Europe 1 on Sunday, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said EU authorities are aiming to launch the vaccination certificate – also referred to as a Digital Green Pass – before summer vacations begin in order to save the 2021 tourism season.
“We’re working to make it before June,” the commissioner said.
As explained by Breton, the “green pass” will inform if one has been vaccinated against the coronavirus (Covid-19), or if they have recovered, or tested negative.
Once launched, the vaccination certificate will be available in all EU countries, free of charge, and include a QR code that can be read in the language of each citizen using it and translated into English.
The vaccination certificate proposal is to be presented to the European Parliament on March 17. Once it is presented it will then be discussed at the European Council’s March 25 summit and the relevant councils of ministers. A second procedure will then follow and involve the technical work that has to be done so that each member state can give its citizens access to the system.
According to a recent survey, Europeans are warming up to the idea of traveling with a vaccination certificate. Half of the British public are said to be in favor of the introduction of such a certificate for global travel.
The vaccination certificate 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.
As explained by the Greek PM, the certificate would allow travelers to enter countries without being forced to provide a negative test and without any quarantine restrictions.
Greek tourism minister: EU should move fast
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis called for decisions on the certificate’s establishment to be made “as fast as possible”.
In a recent interview to politico.eu, the minister stressed that if Europe is still “lagging behind”, it risks losing a prime opportunity to assert its leadership at the ecumenical level.
“We need to move as fast as possible… There must be political will from all countries so that the certificate is introduced as soon as possible,” the minister stressed.
According to Theoharis, the vaccination certificate answers “all the questions that one could ask” and does not exclude anyone.
The minister added that the certificate has been carefully designed so that it does not raise concerns about violating personal data.
“It includes multiple options, allowing anyone who does not wish to reveal whether or not they have been vaccinated to undergo a PCR test,” he said.
Theoharis added: “The vaccination certificate protects one of the fundamental freedoms of the European Union, the freedom of movement”.
It should be noted, that Greece is already in negotiations with a number of countries for the mutual exchange of tourists who hold digital vaccination certificates.
Greece will be opening for tourism this year by May 14 and will welcome guests if they have been vaccinated before travel or have antibodies or test negative.