EU 'vaccination passports' for travel will be free of charge

EU 'vaccination passports' for travel will be free of charge
Credit: Piqsels

The European Union's "vaccination passport" to make travel possible again - the Digital Green Certificate - is supposed to be free of charge for citizens and should be available to everyone in June.

On Wednesday, the European Commission will present its proposal for the certificate, which is meant to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from it, or has a negative test result.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders' draft proposal, which is still confidential, is expected to be approved tomorrow, and states that the certificate will be free of charge for citizens and should prevent fraud with negative test results, reports De Morgen.

"Now that vaccination in Europe is increasing, we must have a perspective to returning to the fundamental right of free movement and travel in Europe," said MEP Manfred Weber in a press release.

"A vaccination certificate is a good way to do this. Unfortunately, however, we have already lost months debating this," he said, adding that the proposal should be adopted "as a matter of urgency."

For citizens, the digital certificate will consist of a QR code on their smartphone or a printed version, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said on French television this weekend.

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Additionally, the certificate not only concerns vaccination, but will also indicate if someone has been tested recently, and will prevent "discrimination" against people who have not been able to get vaccinated yet - a condition that was important to a number of Member States, including Belgium.

In the meantime, several European countries have already started working on their own versions of certificates, but the Commission's proposal must guarantee that the various Member States' systems will be "interoperable," as President Ursula von der Leyen stated earlier this month.

Additionally, the data will not be kept in a central database, and Member States will be responsible for providing and storing the necessary data, such as the name of the passport holder, the type of vaccine used, the date of vaccination, any test results and immunity.

At the end of next week, heads of states or government from EU's member states will discuss the Commission's proposal during their regular spring summit, and will then have to decide whether or not to agree to it.

All Member States are expected to implement the vaccination passport, but it will be up to each State to decide on whether or not to allow citizens who have been vaccinated with vaccines not (yet) recognised in the EU, such as the Russian and Chinese ones, according to Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Internal Affairs.

In principle, the vaccination passport will only apply to travel within the EU, but if countries outside the EU apply the same standard, making travel to and from these countries possible with the certificate could also be considered, something that Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo already implied during a Facebook Live session last week.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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