Europe agrees on corona passport

by Deborah Cater
Corona passport o0r digital certificate agreed by EU
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Europe reaches an agreement on the corona passport, officially the “Covid-19 certificate”. The EU countries and the European Parliament agree on this means to enable travel within the EU. Despite the agreement, some details require ironing out.

The corona passport or digital Covid-19 certificate will contain a QR code. This will demonstrate they holder has been vaccinated against Covid-19, tested negative or have already had the infection as demonstrated with a positive antibody test .

The Dutch government website states the QR code will be implemented in the CoronaCheck app. Two QR codes will appear there; one to gain access to events in the Netherlands and one to travel through Europe. In many other countries in Europe it is not yet clear how they will use the certificate.

Unclear on free

The price for mandatory testing was the biggest issue. The European Parliament (EP) wanted to make the tests free as people without vaccination would be disadvantaged. However, some countries, including the Netherlands, insisted member states should be able to determine this themselves. As a compromise, Brussels is making €100million available for free PCR tests in Europe. However, this does not mean that testing will be free in every European country.

Individual EU countries can take additional measures 

Despite the fact travelling with a Covid-19 certificate should become easier, Member States can decide for themselves whether travellers undergo additional testing or be subject to quarantine. Nevertheless, the EU countries mutually agreed they will only do this in exceptional situations, such as when a new variant emerges.

Will all European countries be ready on time?

Time is running out for the implementation of the certificate. The intention was to introduce it at the end of June. After the agreement between the EU countries and the EP, this date should be achievable. However, when the rules come into force on 1 July, member states will officially have 6 weeks to start using the certificate. EC president von der Leyen announced on Thursday that if member states start using the full term for this, the summer holidays will almost be over.

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Unanswered questions about Covid-19 certificate

There are still a number of details to sort out. For example, according to sources from the EP, people with one injection also qualify for the certificate. However, countries should be allowed to determine themselves whether that is sufficient to admit someone. Countries can also decide for themselves whether they allow tourists to enter freely who have been vaccinated with a non-EMA approved vaccine.

Spain ahead of the game

Spain wants to allow entry to vaccinated British holidaymakers from the first week of June, the deputy tourism minister said. This would put Spain ahead of the rest of the European Union, .

The country is racing to revive its tourism industry and keen “to accept citizens that can present a vaccine certificate”, said Fernando Valdes. 

Valdes also said: “Spain will have the digital certificate ready in June. From the first week of June, Spain will be able to validate certificates on its borders and expedite certificates to its citizens.”

The UK Government should review its green list in the first week of June, which would be the earliest opportunity to allow quarantine-free travel to Spain for English holidaymakers.

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