‘Coronavirus’ vaccination passport to make travel possible again by summer, Commission says
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‘Coronavirus’ vaccination passport to make travel possible again by summer, Commission says

Credit: Belga

The European Commission has put forward its proposal of a digital vaccination certificate which could make travel without restrictions between countries in the EU possible again by this summer.

The draft proposal of the “vaccination passport” – or the Digital Green Certificate – which will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has natural immunity from it, or has a negative test result, was approved and presented on Wednesday.

It gives Member States suggestions of how they can set up such a coordinated system that it says should meet three different requirements: a “digital, green certificate”, and which is expected to be free of charge.

The proposal will now be put to the European Parliament and EU Member States for approval before it can be implemented and could open up free travel across the countries.

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This news comes in the wake of data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, which showed that the number of nights spent in tourism accommodation across the EU dropped by 52% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

In Belgium, tourist accommodations recorded just 19,749,090 overnight stays from January to November 2020, down by 20,000 from 39,732,087 in the same period in 2019.

The ban on non-essential travel until at least 19 April, has further put pressure on the travel sector in the country, which resulted in a Belgian association of tour operators, travel organisers, and travel agents, demanding perspective from the Belgian government for the restart of non-essential travel.

“Now, it is time for the restart as it requires some time before things run the way they are supposed to again,” said Christel Somers, spokesperson group and manager of travel operator Montana.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmès previously warned Belgium would not use these digital passes to resume travel.

“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.”

European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said two weeks ago that to avoid discriminating, the digital pass will not only contain information about vaccinations but also about a recent PCR test and the whether immunity has been created.

By the summer, the Commission has said it will set up a digital infrastructure that would facilitate the authentication of the digital green certificates, and it expects the member states to make the necessary changes in national health records systems.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times