Tuesday

16th Aug 2022

EU to propose Covid-free 'travel pass' ahead of summer

  • 'The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism,' said Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (Photo: Jernej Furman)

The European Commission is working on a special pass to allow vaccinated people and others to travel more freely - despite criticism from those who say it risks discriminating those unable to get the jab.

Also known as a "digital green pass," the plan is to have a legal proposal in a matter of weeks which would include categories like those who are vaccinated, those who have recovered from Covid-19, or those who are able to produce negative test results.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Monday (1 March) that it would ease the lives of Europeans.

"The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism," she said.

The commission's timeline is three months, meaning a pass could - theoretically - be ready for the summer.

But Belgian blowback against the idea, home to the European Commission HQ, appeared within hours.

In a rebuke, Belgian's deputy prime minister Sophie Wilmès, said her country would not participate.

"For Belgium, there is no question of linking vaccination to the freedom of movement around Europe," she said.

Wilmès suggested it risks discrimination, given the slow pace of vaccine roll out, adding that the notion of a pass "is confusing, in relation to the objective that this certificate should pursue."

Only around 30 million vaccination doses have so far been administered across the EU, representing approximately 6.4 percent of the population.

It is also unclear if new checks at the internal borders of the passport-free Schengen zone would thus be needed.

The commission would not respond directly to the question when pressed by reporters on Monday.

Instead, it offered a general response repeating its position that the pass aims to facilitate travel across the Schengen area and possibly even abroad.

"It is not about restricting," added an EU commission spokesperson.

Health data in the pass would show whether a person has been vaccinated, test results for those who haven't been vaccinated yet, and any recovery information on the disease.

The pass also builds on an earlier proposal for a so-called vaccination certificate.

EU states had, at the end of January, agreed on what kind of data to include in such a certificate, which would link up to the national health care and border systems.

Part of those January talks among EU states included creating a "Trust Framework" to help determine how a vaccine certificate can be checked.

That "Trust Framework" still needs to be agreed, and is based on guidelines on what needs to be on the certificate, what it looks like, and other data related security measures.

The pass would be an additional layer to the certificate, which the commission says will be designed to allow the free movement of people.

"It needs to be inclusive so it should be digital but also available on paper if someone doesn't have a phone for example," said the commission.

EU defends all vaccines, amid lower AstraZeneca take-up

The European Commission said that bloc's strict regulatory process for the evaluation and approval of vaccines is crucial to persuade citizens to get the jab, calling on member states to fight vaccine hesitancy with information.

Agenda

Travel certificates back on the agenda This WEEK

On Thursday, MEPs in the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group meeting will hear from Polish judges, prosecutors, and government representatives on the situation of the judiciary in Poland.

EU Commission 'surprised' by Belgian travel ban extension

The European Commission has expressed surprise over the Belgian government's decision to extend the ban on non-essential travel, stressing that "all options" are on the table to ensure free movement across the bloc.

Brussels urges capitals to coordinate Covid re-openings

EU governments' lack of coordination in the first and second wave of the pandemic has caused concerns around supply chains, long queues at borders, and practically froze the bloc's passport-free Schengen zone.

Podcast

Bianca's story revisited

Europeans howl in outrage about US backsliding on abortion rights — but they don't exactly have their own house in order. Take the case of Bianca. She's a Romanian.

Opinion

Are there dangerous chemicals in disposable nappies in EU?

One of the first opportunities for the EU Commission to 'walk its talk' is to support the proposal for a broad restriction of harmful chemicals in single-use diapers that millions of children wear everyday across the continent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists
  2. Iran responds to EU's 'final text' on nuclear deal
  3. Model minority myths
  4. EU must make public who really owns its fishing fleets
  5. Germany needs to cut gas use by 20% to stave off winter crisis
  6. Europe's wildfire destruction set to hit new record
  7. How Putin and Erdoğan are making the West irrelevant
  8. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us