EU Vs. COVID: ‚Vaccine Passport‘ From 1 July as Spain Lifts Travel Restrictions

Written by | Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

The European Parliament, Council and the Commission on Thursday (20 May) reached agreement on the much-mooted EU-wide document that will show if a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has a negative test result or has recovered from the virus –designed to make travel for Europeans easier. If approved by MEPs at their June plenary, the legislation will come into force just in time to be fully rolled out for the summer tourism season. Importantly, the certificate will be available in either digital or paper format and aims to be operational in every EU country, though the issue of reciprocity with non-EU states, such as the UK and US, still remains uncertain. All member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other EU nations for anyone given a vaccine authorized for use in the EU by the EMA.
In a separate but related development, Spain has from Monday (24 May) lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions for citizens of 10 low-risk non-EU countries – namely the UK, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Israel and Rwanda – in a bid to jump-start its pandemic-stricken tourism sector in time for the summer season. According to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visitors from these countries could enter Spain without having to fulfill special requirements, like presenting a PCR test, going into mandatory quarantine or presenting a vaccine certificate, and they will only be asked to fill out a health form prior to arrival. Tourism, a vital part of the Spanish economy, made up just over 12% of its annual GDP in 2019 when it was the second-most visited country in the world.
Meanwhile, MEPs have backed measures to scale up global production through patent waivers, as WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called for more “flexibility and automatic access” to COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries. The WTO chief was speaking on her first ever visit to Brussels at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Trade committee on Thursday (20 May). It is estimated that more than 80% of available vaccines have been distributed to rich countries, while poor countries have received only 0.2% of deliveries. Responding to MEPs’ questions over what measures are needed to accelerate equitable access to vaccines, Okonjo-Iweala, who was recently appointed, argued in favour of expanding vaccine production and ending export restrictions. “The IP waiver is a hot issue on which I cannot take sides. But we need more flexibility and automatic access for developing countries, and at the same time we have to protect research and development,” the WTO boss said.

Article Categories:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.