Great Britain

Europe digital passport: Von der Leyen to launch major bloc-wide Covid travel rules

EU: 'Real split' over vaccine passport idea says expert

The European Commission President made clear that a draft law will be unveiled after member states agreed to implement a of digital certification scheme that coincides with the rollout of Covid jabs. Mrs von der Leyen said: "As for the question of what the digital green passport could look like: we will submit a legislative proposal in March." EU diplomats say that capitals agreed to work on plans to stop some countries, such as Greece, going alone with their own vaccine passports.

One insider said: “We’ve agreed on the data set but not on what the vaccine passport will be used for.”

The source added that some member states want to use the scheme to unlock international travel for the summer holidays while others are more interested in using it to reduce intra-EU barriers.

Last week Mrs von der Leyen said technical work on an EU vaccine certificate would take at least three months to complete.

EU news Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen to unveil EU vaccine passport plans in weeks (Image: GETTY)

The top eurocrat, however, cast doubt on whether the passport would be used to reopen the tourism industry.

She said: “The time frame, the three months is regarding the technical development, so we do need at least three months for the technical development of an interoperable system on the European level.

“There is lots of work to do by the Commission on the European level and lots of work to do technically for the member states on the national level.”

The EU’s coronavirus certificates will carry information on whether people have received a vaccine, a negative test or have antibodies.

Southern EU states that heavily rely on their tourism industries have championed the so-called “coronavirus passports”.

Austria and Bulgaria have also shown support for the scheme to help facilitate movement around the bloc.

Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, and Poland also back vaccination passports.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed back against using a digital certificate to start allowing foreign tourists into the bloc.

After last week’s virtual leaders summit, she said: “Everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate.”

But the influential EU leader poured cold water on the plans to unlock tourism.

“In the future, it will certainly be good to have such a certificate but that will not mean that only those who have such a passport will be able to travel; about that, no political decisions have been made yet,” she said.

Airlines have urged Brussels to consider using the vaccine passport to restart the travel industry.

In a letter, the International Air Transport Association has called on EU leaders to “agree on the crucial role of secure digital solutions, such as the IATA Travel Pass”.

“The digital solution can verify the applicable legal framework at departure and arrival jurisdictions, ensuring that the travel knows all the measures and conditions applicable.”

EU member states have unanimously backed the plan for a bloc-wide scheme amid concerns that fraudsters will attempt to sell illicit vaccine certificates.

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