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EU to Issue Digital Vaccination Certificate “Before Summer”

EU will issues vaccination certificates fro travellers
Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport. Greek Reporter Photo

An EU Vaccination certificate given in digital form promises to change lives in Europe according to European Union autorities. 

On Tuesday, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas expressed optimism that there will be an EU agreement soon on vaccination certificates, which are meant to ease travel after the pandemic.

In an interview with the Greek public broadcaster ERT, the EC official said that “after the last EU Summit, I believe that there is a convergence on the need to have this digital certificate, which will be a European product and will be the same throughout Europe.”

EU Vaccination certificate proposal will be discussed on March 17

Schinas then went on to outline the European Commission’s proposal for the digital certificate, also referred to as a vaccine passport, which will be presented on March 17.

He clarified that the Commission will present the specifications for the digital certificate, which will be the same for all of Europe, but not the exact parameters for its use.

Once the certificate proposal is unveiled, he explained, two additional things need to be done: firstly, to take the decision formally, after discussion at the European Council on March 25 and the relevant councils of ministers.

Then, the technical processing required so that each member-state can allow its citizens to lock, codify and enter information into the system must be undertaken.

All 60+ Europeans should be vaccinated by end of April

Schinas said that the aim is for all these processes to be completed before the summer of 2021, when European countries that heavily rely on tourism fervently hope that travel may resume.

Remarking on the EU-wide inoculation campaigns that are ongoing around the globe at the present, the Commissioner emphasized that it was the largest and most ambitious vaccination project in all of human history.

“Never before has someone bought two doses of a vaccine from six different companies for 450,000,000 people,” he said, adding that “we are also talking about the management of a scientific miracle.”

The EC Vice President added that the rate of vaccine production was accelerating, estimating that all Europeans over 60 years of age will have been vaccinated some time in April, while that hopefully by the end of May and certainly by the end of June, “we will have 600,000,000 doses.”

All EU member states must be onboard for system to work

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced to EU member states Friday that vaccine certificates, called “Digital Green Certificates,” would likely be adopted across Europe on March 17.

Once made available, members of the European Union will be given the option to opt in to the certificate, but von der Leyen has stressed that, in order to be effective, all member states would have to be on board.

In her announcement, von der Leyen referenced Greek PM Mitsotakis‘ suggestion of a Europe-wide “vaccination passport” during a virtual meeting on February 24, and stressed the certificate’s potential to “facilitate free movement of persons within the European Union.”

EU Vaccine certificates will also include Covid-19 test results

The certificates, which would operate at an EU-wide level, will include essential information about “a person’s Covid-19 status,” von der Leyen wrote, particularly whether the person has been fully vaccinated, if they have tested negative for the virus, or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past.

Von der Leyen stressed that, in order for the certificate to be in effect “within the next three months” across the bloc, all EU member states should begin the process of organizing national data regarding vaccinations and coronavirus test results.

Additionally, the EU’s 27 countries would have to have necessary technology to analyze the certificate’s QR code, which will be available digitally on smart phones or on a sheet of paper.

Countries across the EU have proposed the certificates be used for free travel, without coronavirus restrictions such as quarantine, for travelers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Those who have not yet been vaccinated will also be able to travel will have to follow strict anti-virus measures, such as mandatory quarantines.

Others have suggested that the certificates be used for admission to enclosed spaces such as movie theaters and indoor restaurants.

Greece, Cyprus, Spain view “vaccine passport” as key for tourism

European countries whose economies are dependent on tourism, such as Greece, Spain, and Cyprus, have lauded the move, viewing it as a way for the sector to bounce back this summer while keeping their citizens safe.

These Mediterranean countries have already indicated that they are ready to implement the certificate when it is made available.

Greece has already started issuing a digital vaccination certificate in February for citizens who have received both doses of the coronavirus shot.

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