The European Commission plans to propose a “digital green pass” this month in order to revive international travel ahead of the summer.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the commission, wrote in a tweet on Monday that the proposals will “respect data protection, security and privacy”.
She added that the pass “should facilitate Europeans’ lives” and that the “aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism”.
We'll present this month a legislative proposal for a Digital Green Pass. The aim is to provide:
•Proof that a person has been vaccinated
•Results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet
•Info on COVID19 recovery
It will respect data protection, security & privacy
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 1, 2021
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. This would allow unvaccinated adults and children to travel abroad restriction-free if they provide proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test or data showing immunity from the presence of antibodies.
The pass will be submitted to the European Parliament on March 17 and discussed at a summit on March 24, with aims to open up travel by the end of June.
This news comes after EU leaders agreed last week to work on vaccine certificates in order to revive the travel and tourism industry.
The proposed measures will be subject to criticism, with sceptics concerned about privacy, the risk of transmission of the virus by vaccinated individuals, and 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. Commenting on the proposals in a tweet, she stated:
“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 generalised”.
For more information on the ethical implications of vaccine passports, see our feature:
The UK will not initially be part of the EU scheme, but Downing Street said that officials from the Department for Transport (DfT) will enter discussions with the EU regarding the use of the pass.
The UK government is currently in talks to introduce vaccine passports for international travel, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps discussing the initiative with counterparts in the Singaporean and US governments.
Additionally, the British government has had “fruitful discussions” with IATA regarding its Travel Pass according to IATA’s CEO Alexandre de Juniac, while there are also plans to convert the NHS app into a digital health certificate.
Several companies and international bodies have put forward a variety of technological solutions to document and verify travellers’ health status in the light of Covid-19 – for our guide to the different initiatives see: