‘Free movement without discrimination’: EU agrees on Covid-19 travel pass

‘Free movement without discrimination’: EU agrees on Covid-19 travel pass
Credit: Belga

The European Parliament on Thursday agreed on its negotiating position on the proposal for a certificate to reaffirm the right to free movement in Europe during the pandemic.

The original Digital Green Certificate which was proposed by the European Commission has been replaced with a new “EU Covid-19 certificate”, which will show that a person has been vaccinated or that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection.

“We need to put in place the EU COVID-19 Certificate to re-establish people’s confidence in Schengen while we continue to fight against the pandemic,” Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, said.

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“Member states must coordinate their response in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force,” he added.

This means member states can no longer impose additional travel restrictions, such as quarantines, self-isolation, or further testing upon arrivals on holders of the certificate. 

MEPs stressed that in order to avoid discrimination against those not vaccinated and for economic reasons, EU countries should “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing.”

The certificate should work alongside any initiative for safe travel set up by the member states, which should also respect the same common legal framework.

MEPs also agreed that the document, which may be in digital or paper format, should be in place for 12 months and not longer.

The certificates will neither serve as travel documents nor become a precondition to exercise the right to free movement, according to the European Parliament’s press release.

According to the Parliament’s position, member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen).

It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use. Some of them are already in use by some countries prior to any approval by EMA.

Both the European Parliament and Council will now begin negotiations on the certificate, with the aim of reaching an agreement ahead of the summer tourist season.

The Brussels Times

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