European agreement on vaccination passport

by Lorraine Williamson
Spain and Covid vaccination passport

All European countries are in favour of a digital vaccination passport. Those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will receive a passport certifying they can travel freely again. “It should be there by the summer,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the summit. 

Countries dependent on tourists

It is especially the countries where the economy is largely dependent on tourism that quickly want a vaccination passport. Following Israel´s example, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he would like to see the ski areas fill up again. Beginning with winter sports enthusiasts from all over Europe. Countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Cyprus and Malta also quickly joined him. They would like to see recently vaccinated people who have already had corona or people who have recently tested negative to enable them to gradually return to normalcy and to travel freely between European countries.

Israel green passport

Israel with a population of 9million has introduced the so-called green passport. This is a digital version on the mobile phone. And as such points a possible way to a “new normal” for the European countries. Therefore, fully vaccinated people in Israel regain their freedom. However, non or partially vaccinated residents will still be subject to restrictions. With a green passport, just about anything is possible again. Greece and Cyprus have already signed an agreement allowing vaccinated Israelis to travel to these countries without quarantine from mid-March. 

Safer travel

European countries agree that vaccination passports make travel safer. However, there is still disagreement about possible obligation of vaccination and possible benefits that can be linked to a vaccination. Moreover, a number of legal questions remain unanswered in this regard. What about medical confidentiality? What about people who do not want to be vaccinated for other reasons? According to Merkel, “everyone has pointed out this is not what the current state of vaccinations is all about today.” She added that Europe must be prepared. However, that “does not mean that those who do not have a certificate will not be allowed to travel. No agreement has been reached on this at all “. 

cogesa expats

Boris Johnson ordered vaccination passport review

The UK government is also considering vaccination passports. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered for a lengthy review to take place. This could be in the form of digital certificates. Futhermore, the system could be not only be used for travelling abroad, but also to allow access to venues including restaurants and bars. However public health officials and civil liberty organisations are urging policymakers to resist calls for coronavirus vaccine passports.

Bloomberg reports, Johnson’s decision to conduct a lengthy review into the matter — with cabinet trouble-shooter Michael Gove leading — says a couple of things. Firstly, the government thinks that a vaccine certification could be useful not simply for international travel but in getting the economy fully reopened and in nudging some vaccine holdouts. Secondly, Downing Sreet knows that adopting such a system will come down to whether the public accepts the tradeoff of more government control for more freedom. That won’t be easy.

But Boris Johnson is not taking anything for granted. According to UK newspaper, The Guardian, “the government is investigating the use of `Covid status certificates´ to help allow society to reopen”, Boris Johnson announced. However, ministers have repeatedly denied that they would consider the domestic use of so-called vaccine passports, fearing they pose risks of discrimination, as some groups are unable to receive the coronavirus jab.

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