Free vaccination passports should be available by mid-June

by Lorraine Williamson
vaccination passports

MADRID – The European Commission wants the European vaccination passports to be available free of charge to everyone in the EU by mid-June. The vaccine pass should restart the free movement of citizens in the European Union after a year of lockdowns. The exact plan will be revealed in the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday. Following this, it will be debated on Thursday. Any difficulties regarding its acceptance are expected from the data protection side. The Digital Green Certificate will be a digital card that should also prevent fraud with negative test results. The EC is aiming for an accelerated process to introduce the vaccination passports before summer as a ‘binding instrument’ for all member states. 

Perspective 

German member Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP group said on Monday: “As vaccination increases in Europe, we must have a perspective to return to the fundamental right of free movement and travel in Europe” and “A vaccination certificate is a good way to do this. However, we have been debating this for months. Furthermore, the European Parliament should adopt these proposals urgently ”. 

Three demands 

The digipas consists of a QR code on the traveller´s mobile phone or a printed version of it. Therfore, on this basis, it can be checked at an airport or border, whether the holder is allowed to travel. A person is allowed to travel if he or she meets on of the following requirements;

  • has been vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA)
  • has a recent negative corona test
  • is immune to Covid-19 because he or she has already had the virus.

Currently recognised vaccines are those from Pfizer / BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

These three requirements prevent ‘discrimination’ against people who have not yet had their turn for vaccination. More importantly, they can still travel with a negative test. According to a source at the Commission, the vaccination passports would only be valid until the end of the corona pandemic. 

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Data protection 

The European Commission wants all systems that countries develop separately to quickly connect  and get travel started quickly. Next week, government leaders will discuss the proposal on the vaccination passports. Following this, the member states and the European Parliament have to agree.  

The importance of ‘a high degree of data protection’ with regard to the ‘sensitive medical data’ on the digipas is emphasised. Medical confidentiality was mentioned in our previous article. Therfore, member States will be responsible for this. 

A platform should be set up to enable the authorities in different Member States to check together whether a person is actually allowed to travel. In this context, EU officials speak of ‘an enormous ICT challenge for the Member States’. 

All Member States are expected to participate in the Digital Green Card. Also, each member state must decide whether citizens with vaccines not recognized in the EU will be admitted. For instance, the Russian and Chinese vaccines.

Initially, the vaccination passports will only apply to travel within the EU. Later it can be seen whether other countries will recognise it. 

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