EU acts to extend Covid travel pass to summer 2023

EU acts to extend Covid travel pass to summer 2023
Credit: Belga

On Thursday, the European Commission moved to extend the EU Covid travel certification by another year, so that it will now end in June 2023.

As countries diverge over how tightly to impose pandemic restrictions and Belgium considers ending its domestic Covid Safe Ticket, the EU executive said it was too soon to roll back its flagship cross-border controls.

"Today the European Commission is proposing to extend the EU Digital Covid Certificate by a year, until 30 June 2023," the Brussels-based executive said in a statement Thursday.

The battle not yet over

"The Covid-19 virus continues to be prevalent in Europe and at this stage, it is not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants," it added.

“We cannot predict how the pandemic will evolve," Belgium's EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said. "Without this extension, we risk having many divergent national systems, and all the confusion and obstacles that this would cause."

"I am looking forward to the day when it is no longer needed, but in the meantime, it will enable us to move around safely in Europe.”

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The Commission acted to ensure that the European Parliament and EU Member States have the time to extend the legal framework governing travel across internal EU borders before its planned expiry at the end of June this year.

Alterations to the current pass

The EU travel pass will now also include people entered into clinical trials for vaccines, as well as accepting recognised vaccines administered outside the EU. Laboratory-based antigen test results will also be accepted.

These tweaks are "to encourage the continued development and study of vaccines," alongside EU pressure for its 27 member countries "to align their domestic validity periods with the validity period set at EU level for the purpose of travel."

The Commission cites 1.2 billion certificates issued and 60 countries either subject to or recognising the scheme.

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