The European Commission will this month propose an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a Covid-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer.
The EU executive aims to present its plans for a “digital green pass” on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union.
The pass would provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, the results of tests for those not yet vaccinated and information on recovery for people who have contracted Covid-19.
“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.
We’ll present this month a legislative proposal for a Digital Green Pass. The aim is to provide:
•Proof that a person has been vaccinated
•Results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet
•Info on COVID19 recovery
It will respect data protection, security & privacy
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 1, 2021
The Commission wants to establish an EU-wide system to prevent separate deals being hatched between EU countries that would fragment its internal market and to avoid finding itself subject to a system set by a third country or by a tech giant.
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said vaccine deliveries would sharply increase in the coming months.
“Vaccine rollouts must follow as well so there are no gaps and no vaccines are left unused,” she told a news conference.
EU leaders agreed last week to work on vaccine certificates, with southern member states such as Spain and Greece particularly keen to unlock tourism this summer.
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has welcomed the proposal, saying: “This European pass will aim to help to facilitate travel in Europe for work and tourism. There is work to be done yet in terms of how it will work but we would hope that it will help to facilitate safe travel within the EU when appropriate.
“We must continue of course to do all we can to ensure people are safe from Covid-19 but it is important too that we consider proposals like this as more people are vaccinated.”
However, it is not yet clear whether vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to others. Some countries, such as France and Belgium, have also expressed concern that easing travel only for inoculated people would be unfair.
The Commission said it wanted to avoid any discrimination.
EU countries would be free to set their own criteria for entry, although broadly open borders make this a difficult task.