Europe’s aviation, travel and tourism sectors are applauding a vote that took place on Wednesday (April 28) in European Parliament regarding the EU’s proposed Digital Green Certificate Regulation.
The aim of this pass is to enable free movement and reopen travel within the EU by providing proof that a person has been vaccinated, results of tests for those who can’t get a vaccine yet, and information on one’s COVID-19 recovery.
“Swift action and alignment among the institutions” is now critical in order to make these certificates operational by June, read a statement signed by a dozen European airline and travel associations, including IATA, CLIA, the ETC and ECTAA.
European lawmakers said Thursday (April 29) that COVID-19 certificates aimed at easing travel restrictions in the EU should be enough to move freely this summer.
Changes to original idea
Parliament brought forth forward some changes to the pass’s original proposal:
A new name, “EU COVID-19 Certificate” has been agreed to make it clearer to EU citizens and also limit the certificates’ use to during the pandemic.
Free and accessible testing: Testing is key in the fight against COVID-19, and the requirement to conduct pre-departure tests (often PCR) should not create an economic distortion between travellers. With tests ranging from €10 to €150, it is clear that such high costs could become a deterrent to travel – in particular among families.
Full equality among vaccinated and tested citizens: No additional measures such as quarantine or further testing should be imposed on travellers presenting a valid “EU COVID-19 Certificate."
Eyeing summer start
The Commission's goal is to boost travel between European regions, but since border control is in the hands of member states, each of the 27 EU countries will remain entitled to add their own requirements for granting entry.
"What's the point in having a common European scheme if then member states can, whenever they feel like it, ignore the certificate and impose additional restrictions?" lawmaker Sophie in 't Veld said at the debate. "Citizens want their rights, they want their freedom, they want to travel."
Following Wednesday’s vote, negotiations between the European Parliament and the EU Council can now start and officials hope to have something locked in by June before the summer travel season starts.
The Commission predicts that roughly 70 per cent of the EU adult population will be vaccinated by summer’s end.
With files from The Associated Press.
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