Vaccine passports: will the EU catch them before summer

Vaccine passports: will the EU catch them before summer

The vaccine passport - a document containing information about the vaccination, negative test or the presence of antibodies - should, according to the European Commission, facilitate travel within the Community. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hopes that a political agreement will be reached by the end of May.

The technical - and relatively least complex - side of the project is dealt with by the Commission. The European Commission spokesman for health, Stefan De Keersmaecker, announced this week that the pilot tests have already started. If they are successful, then from 1 June individual Member States will be able to connect to the unified EU system. De Keersmaecker estimates that this should last until mid-June in most cases.

This may take longer for some countries, such as Germany, for example. Germany has not digitally recorded over 7 million people who received at least one dose of the Covid-19 preparation. Therefore, these people will have to go to the vaccination points again to make up for the oversight. And it will take time.

However, this is not a determining factor for the system's being or not. A much greater challenge is to achieve political agreement between the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the Commission.

A bone of contention in negotiations are several issues. Above all, the EP demands that having a valid vaccination passport be a sufficient condition for free movement and that EU countries should not be allowed to impose additional restrictions such as quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures.

However, border controls are the responsibility of individual countries and not all of them agree with the postulate of the European Parliament. Additionally, some of them do not want a negative test result to entitle them to the same privileges as full vaccination.

In addition, the EP insists that the tests should be free of charge.

According to information from the Politico portal, if a consensus cannot be reached by the next European Council meeting on May 24-25, the passports will be introduced anyway - as a recommendation by the CoE, bypassing Parliament.

How exactly is the system supposed to work? As emphasized by the European Commission, national authorities are responsible for issuing certificates. These can be, for example, hospitals, testing facilities, and vaccination centers.

Employees of these centers, at the request of the person concerned, will issue a digital certificate of immunization and send it to a consortium of companies that will deal with the technical aspects of the document. Once they have it ready, they will send it back to facilities such as hospitals and immunization centers.

Such prepared certificate will be available for download on a mobile device or issued in paper form. Both versions will include a QR code with essential information as well as a digital seal confirming that the certificate is genuine.

During border checks or airports, only the authenticity and validity of the certificate is to be verified. All health data is left to the country that issued the certificate, the Commission underlines.

From Brussels Artur Ciechanowicz (PAP)

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