Belgium won't link EU 'vaccination passports' to free travel, says Wilmès

Belgium won't link EU 'vaccination passports' to free travel, says Wilmès
Credit: Belga

For Belgium, it is "out of the question" that the European Covid-19 digital vaccination passport will be linked to people's freedom of movement, according to the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmès.

The European Commission will table a proposal for a 'Digital Green Pass' for people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus later this month, but Wilmès reacted on Twitter to say she opposes a link between free travel in the EU and possible vaccination.

According to her, the idea of "a standardised European system that allows each individual to collect information about their vaccination and tests on a single digital document (certificate)" is a good one.

"However, in Mrs Von der Leyen's proposal, the term 'pass' is confusing when we look at the purpose of the certificate," Wilmès added.

"For Belgium, it is out of the question to link vaccination to freedom of movement in Europe," she said. "Respect for the principle of non-discrimination is all the more fundamental because vaccination is not compulsory and there is not yet universal access to the vaccine."

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The legislative proposal is expected to clarify what the digital pass will look like in concrete terms, with Commission President Von der Leyen saying that the passes will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, or test results for those who could not get a vaccine yet.

The technical conditions will be created this month, but the passes will "respect data protection, security and privacy," she added.

Since the initial proposal was made, particularly Member States in southern Europe whose economy relies heavily on tourism, such as Spain, Italy and Greece, are pinning their hopes on a vaccination certificate for travellers.

After a video conference with the European heads of government on Thursday evening, von der Leyen indicated that the technical preparation would take about three months, as the different national systems must be made "interoperable."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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