EU urged to adopt Covid-19 'vaccination certificate' for travel

EU urged to adopt Covid-19 'vaccination certificate' for travel
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The aviation industry is urging the EU to adopt a proposal for a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate, which would enable vaccinated people to travel freely in all Member States.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the European Union to support the initiative, proposed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose country’s economy heavily relies on travel and tourism.

”[This] initiative should be urgently adopted by the Commission and all member states," IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac wrote in an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"Vaccination is a fundamental key to safely reopening borders and stimulating economic recovery," he said.

"A pan-European mutually recognised vaccination certificate would be an important step towards giving governments the confidence to safely open their borders, and passengers the confidence to fly without the barrier of quarantine," de Juniac added.

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During a press conference last Friday, von der Leyen stated that she was in favour of such a document, and that it was "absolutely necessary" to have a certificate when you are vaccinated.

However, she stressed, political and legal questions about what rights would possibly be attached to a digital passport or vaccine certificate should be discussed during a debate, adding that agreements at the European level were necessary.

Several Member States have already warned that such a certificate could become a source of discrimination, as it could allow holders to be able to travel around Europe freely, while others still waiting their turn for vaccination will not have that same right.

In a press communication on Monday, Belgium's Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy PM Sophie Wilmès also stated that such a document "cannot lead to discrimination between European citizens if there is no universal access to vaccines."

She also stressed that the certificate, if adopted, should not restrict people's individual freedoms or cross-border mobility.

According to de Juniac, the requirement for a harmonised safe aviation restart is "more urgent than ever" in the face of renewed lockdowns and travel restrictions across the world.

“We are in very dark days of this pandemic, but the tough measures taken combined with accelerating vaccination programs must give us hope that we can safely re-establish the freedom of movement," he added.

On Thursday 21 January, the EU heads of state will meet over videoconference to discuss the latest developments and the possibility of such a vaccination certificate.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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