Deal reached on EU-wide COVID travel pass

EU countries have agreed on a deal to introduce EU-wide digital travel passes during the summer season.

The certificate is intended to facilitate the free movement of people for work and tourism across the block. This green digital certificate will contain information on vaccination, tests, and recovery from the disease. 

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On Thursday, the European Parliament reached a deal over the travel pass from its 27 member states. Vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) can only be accepted in the application process although individual countries will have the chance to accept other jabs. 

Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, and AstraZeneca jabs were all green-lighted by EMA. Individual member states will decide whether one or two doses are good enough to obtain a pass. The European Commission has urged countries to build a harmonious approach to avoid fragmentation. This pass will show the date one was inoculated, the vaccine brand, and the number of doses issued. 

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EU citizens outside the bloc are permitted to get the certificate only if they received one of the four vaccines. The new travel pass will be named “EU Digital COVID certificate”, a slight deviation from the original "Digital Green Certificate". Both a physical and digital version will be unveiled and operate through a QR code.

The EU will provide €100 million to make testing more affordable and member states will impose travel restrictions on pass holders where necessary to safeguard public health. If the ECDC deems the health situation in a country to have deteriorated, the national government will have 48 hours to communicate this decision to the European Commission and other member states who intentionally impose prior restrictions to pass holders. The kick-in of the drastic measures will be gauged according to proportionality, necessity, and non-discrimination. 

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Parliament will rubber-stamp the deal in the next plenary, where a debate is already scheduled for June 9. The EU council will run through the text where a qualified majority is needed. 

The EU parliament first presented its proposal in the middle of March with negotiations carrying on at record speed between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. A provisional agreement was finally entered into between those two institutions, hence the need to move such discussions into practicable text.  

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After a heated four rounds of negotiations, members decided to cede ground and accept €100 million to go to testing while restrictions were conditionally lifted. Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission President took to Twitter to celebrate the new agreement.