Digital Covid Passports Approved By The European Union From July 1, In A Boost To Cross-Border Travel

The European Union’s Parliament approved the EU digital Covid Certificate in a vote on Wednesday, in a move that will allow the bloc to restart travel by allowing member nations to verify if incoming travelers are either vaccinated against or have tested negative for Covid-19.

The Parliament passed the new digital Covid Certificate Regulations by a large majority of 546-93 with 51 members abstaining, according to a press statement.

The system will go into effect on July 1 and be in place for 12 months.

The digital certificate can either be carried in digital or paper format and it will certify that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recently tested negative for the disease or has recovered from an infection.

As part of the rules, EU states have agreed to not impose any additional travel restrictions—like mandatory quarantines, additional testing or self-isolation—on travelers who hold a green certificate.

If any restrictions are put in place within a country, they will have to give 48 hours’ notice to other member states and the Commission, and the public should be given 24 hours of notice.

All EU members are required to accept vaccination certificates issued by other members for shots that have been authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), however, they may also choose to accept certificates for vaccines that have been approved by other nations or listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. This is a key step since some EU members have approved the use of Russian and Chinese-made vaccines which are yet to be cleared by the EMA.

Chair of the EU Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “Today Parliament has set the pace to restore free movement and a fully functional Schengen while we continue to fight this pandemic…EU states are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions, unless strictly necessary and proportionate, and it is reassuring that some are already issuing the certificate.”

Critics of such vaccine travel passes or certificates have expressed concern over the discriminatory impact of such a system due to the unequal rollout of vaccines around the world. In January, WHO officials said governments should “not introduce requirements of proof of vaccination or immunity for international travel as a condition of entry” at present. However, EU leaders have previously stated that, unlike so-called “vaccine passports,” the EU’s Digital Green Certificate also considers a negative Covid test or a previous Covid-19 infection.

EU officials have stated that they will also open up the Covid passes to non-EU residents, including Americans, according to CNN. Spain and France are the latest countries opening up to U.S. tourists, and both require international travelers to provide proof of full vaccination. The U.S. currently does not issue a national Covid-19 vaccination certificate and is unlikely to do so in the future.