European Summer Saved? EU Announces Plan for Vaccine Passports

·2 min read
Yara Nardi via Reuters
Yara Nardi via Reuters

ROME—The European Commission will introduce legislation paving the way for “digital green pass” COVID-19 passports in March with the goal of opening up travel for those who have been vaccinated.

Why Europe’s COVID Vaccine Passports Won’t Work

The move, which has been criticized for potentially discriminating against those for whom the vaccine is not easily available, was announced by Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Monday. “We will submit a legislative proposal in March,” she told German lawmakers on Monday. “The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism,” she said in a follow-up tweet.

Unsurprisingly, the move has not been embraced equally by all E.U. member states. Tourist-reliant Greece has already created its own COVID-19 passport with an eye to opening up the country’s picturesque islands this summer. The Italian island of Sardinia, which is currently Italy’s only restriction-free “white zone” thanks to efforts to control who enters the island, has also said only vaccinated people can disembark.

The Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal all give a national certificate upon full vaccination tied to their national health plans, though they are not recognized on a transnational level.

Spain and Italy have also applauded the E.U.-wide move, while France and Belgium—where the vaccine rollout has faced hurdles—have both criticized the plan, saying it would only pave the way to discrimination.

Several countries have also argued that it would need to be proven that vaccinated people cannot transmit the virus, which has yet to be established by the larger medical community or the World Health Organization.

In January, the E.U. agreed on the metrics for a European vaccination certificate, but the new legislation would create the groundwork to eventually extend beyond Europeans and even allow foreign nationals who can prove they have been vaccinated to enter the E.U. without having to quarantine.

Von der Leyen also said she believes that 70 percent of all adult citizens of the 27-member should be inoculated by the end of the summer, calling it a “goal that we're confident with.”

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