European Parliament green lights EU coronavirus passport
In a vote on Thursday, the European Parliament voted in support of the introduction of an EU-wide coronavirus passport. The EU hopes the document will be ready to use in time for the summer holidays.
EU Parliament supports plans for EU COVID-19 certificate
The digital or physical passport would be available to all EU residents and nationals who wish to travel within the EU, and would provide proof of either vaccination, a recent negative coronavirus test, or recent recovery of the virus (which would mean the traveller had sufficient antibodies). The EU hopes the introduction of the passport will make travel easier and safer.
An overwhelming majority voted in favour of the European Commission’s proposal, with 540 MPs supporting the bill. Dutch MPs were enthusiastic about the vote: Esther de Lange from Christian Democratic Appeal calling the passport “a valuable tool to be able to travel again,” while Labour’s Vera Tax said it was “good news... for residents who want to visit their family and friends abroad again.”
However, Parliament did request a few changes be made to the plan - namely that the document be named the EU COVID-19 certificate instead of the Digital Green Certificate, and that the system should be scrapped after 12 months. Parliament also emphasised that member states should not require travellers with the certificate to quarantine or get tested for coronavirus upon arrival at their destination.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called the vote an “important step towards free and safe travel this summer.” She expects to have the system approved and up and running by the end of June.
Member states yet to approve plan
While support from Parliament is vital, EU member states are yet to approve the bill. However, this will have to be done quickly if the EU hopes to meet its target. Parliament, member states and the Commission are now negotiating the details of the so-called coronavirus certificate.
Gaining the support of member states could be tricky, as many leaders have voiced concerns about how a passport could limit the freedoms of members of the public who are not yet vaccinated. In addition to this, some countries have already established their own COVID-19 passports.
Spain has announced a coronavirus passport trial will take place in May, and that the country will welcome vaccinated holidaymakers from June. The Netherlands is also trialling the CoronaCheck app, and the Dutch government hopes it will be launched by June. It is not yet known how the CoronaCheck app will fit in with the EU’s plans.