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EU Floats Vaccine Passport Idea to Boost International Travel

EU-wide “digital green pass” plan would verify a traveler’s COVID-19 vaccination status, test results or immunity

The European Commission is set to propose a “digital green pass” for EU residence that would allow them to “move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” according to a tweet posted by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the commission.

The pass will be submitted to the European Parliament on March 17 and discussed at a summit on March 24, with the aim of opening up travel by the end of June. The news comes after EU leaders agreed to work on vaccine certificates in order to revive the travel and tourism industry.

The EU-wide certificate would provide proof of vaccination, test results for those not yet inoculated, and information on an individual’s recovery from COVID-19.

The information would allow unvaccinated adults and children to travel abroad without restrictions if they provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or data showing the presence of antibodies meaning they are immune.

in order to revive international travel ahead of the summer.

In her tweet, von der Leyen wrote that the proposals will “respect data protection, security and privacy,” and that the pass “should facilitate Europeans’ lives.”

Nevertheless the proposed measures will be subject to criticism, with sceptics concerned about privacy, questions about whether vaccinated individuals can still transmit the virus, and problems with discrimination against those who cannot/will not be vaccinated.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, for instance, said that her country would not participate in the scheme. “For Belgium, there is no question of linking vaccination to the freedom of movement around Europe. Respect for the principle of non-discrimination is more fundamental than ever since vaccination is not compulsory and access to the vaccine is not yet generalized.”

Several airlines and other industry groups, including the International Air Transport Association, have already launched trials of a number of technological solutions to document and verify travelers’ health status in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find a guide to the different initiatives here.