Hot Ticket: ‘Digital Green Certificate’ Hoped to Boost Summer Holiday Travel

Written by | Sunday, March 21st, 2021

The European Union‘s ‘Digital Green Certificate’, unveiled on Wednesday (17 March) by the European Commission, will help reinstate freedom of movement in a „safe, responsible and trusted“ way, said the executive‘s President, Ursula von der Leyen. The Commission’s common approach to vaccine certificates aims to ease free travel within the bloc, amid concerns over the slow and unequal rollout of vaccines across member states. The announcement comes after tourism-reliant member states, led by Greece, and leading industry players such as the International Air Transport Association, urged the EU to establish a form of vaccination proof ahead of the summer holiday season. The proposed certificate is designed to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from it, or has received a negative test result.
The vaccine rollout across most European countries has been slow, and has been further disrupted after several nations paused the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after unproven reports of blood clots. Meanwhile, tourism-reliant countries, including Spain, Greece and Portugal, who have been devastated by the pandemic, hope the introduction of a ‘passport’ will allow visitors back to the sun loungers this summer. Commenting ahead of the announcement, German MEP Manfred Weber said that “now that vaccination in Europe is increasing, we must have a perspective to returning to the fundamental right of free movement and travel in Europe.” The leader of the EPP group also added that “a vaccination certificate is a good way to do this. Unfortunately, however, we have already lost months debating this. The European Parliament should adopt these proposals as a matter of urgency.”
The EU Commission is working with the World Health Organization (WTO) to ensure that certificates issued in the EU can be recognized elsewhere in the world as well. However, a spokesman for the S&D group in the European Parliament said earlier this week (15 March) that it “has a range of questions and concerns relating to the proposed certificates, including data protection rights and the impact on the Schengen area.” The ongoing health crisis has again dominated parliamentary proceedings this week and MEPs have also discussed how to deal with the economic fallout with the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Christine Lagarde. The ECB chief focused mainly on how she intends to steer monetary policy in the coming months against the backdrop of an uncertain economic outlook.

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