BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive body proposed Wednesday issuing certificates that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by the summer as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or recovered from the disease.
With summer looming and tourism-reliant countries anxiously waiting for the return of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission foresees the creation of certificates aimed at facilitating travel between EU member nations. The plan is set to be discussed during a summit of EU leaders next week,
“We all want the tourist season to start. We can’t afford to lose another season,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova told Czech public radio. “Tourism, and also culture and other sectors that are dependent on tourism, terribly suffer. We’re talking about tens of millions of jobs.”
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The topic of vaccine certificates has been under discussion for weeks in the EU, where it proved to be divisive. The travel industry and southern European countries with tourism-dependent economies like Greece and Spain have pushed for the quick introduction of a program that would help eliminate quarantines and testing requirements for tourists.
But several other EU members, including France, argued that it would be premature and discriminatory to introduce such passes since a large majority of EU citizens haven’t had access to vaccines so far.
To secure the participation of all member countries, the commission proposed delivering free “Digital Green Certificates” to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but also to those who have tested negative for the virus or can prove they recovered from it.
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