EU announces tentative accord on pandemic pass

Brussels, May 20 (EFE).- The governments of the 27 European Union member-states and representatives to the European Parliament reached a consensus Thursday on the creation of a document enabling free movement within the bloc for people who test negative for Covid-19, are vaccinated or have coronavirus antibodies in their blood.

“White smoke: we have a deal on the Commission’s proposal on the EU Digital Covid Certificate,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Twitter.

“I welcome today’s provisional agreement reached by @Europarl_EN and @EUCouncil. We delivered on this new tool in record time to safeguard #FreeMovement for all citizens,” the Belgian politician wrote.

Given the importance of tourism to many national economies in the EU, politicians and business leaders have emphasized the urgency of securing approval of the covid certificate in time for summer travel.

To take effect, the accord requires formal approval by a full session of the European Parliament, which is set to meet June 7-10 in Strasbourg.

While the draft preserves the principle that individual member-states retain final authority over questions of public health within their respective jurisdictions, the 27 governments undertake not to impose quarantines or additional restrictions on certificate holders except when necessary to protect their populations.

The parliament said that in practice, governments will issue three distinct certificates corresponding to the three cases: negative Covid-19 test; at least one dose of vaccine; recovery from a coronavirus infection.

The plan calls for the EU Digital Covid Certificate regulatory framework to remain in effect for 12 months.

Parliament said that the certificate will not be a precondition for exercising the right to free movement and will not be considered a travel document.

To facilitate testing, the Commission pledged to use the Emergency Support Instrument to provide 100 million euros ($122 million) for the purchase of Covid-19 tests, with a provision for an additional 100 million euros if needed.

Only the four vaccines approved to date by the European Medicines Agency, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, will be acceptable for meeting the vaccination requirement.

The agreement “certainly signifies a major improvement to the current status quo for millions of EU citizens,” the chair of the parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, said.

“The EU Digital Covid certificate will restore free movement within the EU, as member-states start lifting restrictions to free movement across Europe,” he said. EFE


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