The European Union reached an agreement on Thursday, paving the way for COVID-19 certificates, designed to facilitate travel and help revive tourism in Europe. The certificates will allow people to travel among European countries this summer. 

On Thursday afternoon, the European Parliament and current EU president Portugal, representing member states, sealed the deal after a fourth round of negotiations.

The agreed text will be presented to the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) on 26 May. If confirmed, the agreement between the institutions should allow the European Parliament to pass a law during Parliament’s plenary session on 7-10 June and allow for many EU countries, including France and Spain, to test the system before it’s launch on July 1.

In order to make tests affordable to all EU citizens, the European Commission, which also participated in the discussions, committed to make at least 100 million euros ($120 million) of its Emergency Support Instrument available to help the member states offset the cost of the tests.

“This will obviously mark summer 2021.” said Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, the Spanish lawmaker who headed the parliament’s team, at a press conference. He added, “We won’t be repeating the nightmare of summer 2020.” 

The free COVID-19 certificate will act as digital proof of coronavirus vaccination status, COVID test results, or recovery from an infection. The certificate will be in the form of a QR code on a smartphone or paper, allowing authorities to determine the status of a visitor based on records in their home EU country. It will also cover non-EU members of the border-free Schengen zone – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Almost 40 percent of adults in the EU have received a first dose of the vaccine. 

Lawmakers agreed that additional travel restrictions such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing should not be imposed by the member states.

Aguilar said, “This was a point that we found difficult to negotiate over the four meetings over the four trialogues. But now the general rule is that the certificate guarantees an open door.”

Among those resisting was Germany and Sweden, however, in the end, EU countries agreed to refrain from imposing additional restrictions unless considered essential on public health grounds, such as because of the rise of a new coronavirus variant.

EU Member states would accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for those inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The scheme also covers non-EU members of the border-free Schengen zone – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

This certificate scheme is different from plans to launch a vaccine passport/certificate for inoculated non-EU visitors.


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