Travel to and within the European Union this summer could be opened up if Brussels agrees plans today (Wednesday) for Covid-19 vaccine certificates.
The European Commission’s plan for a ‘digital green certificate’ will be a proof of vaccination, immunity and test results, preventing the need for quarantines or travel bans.
Spain, Greece, Italy and other Mediterranean countries will be able to agree bilateral deals with the UK or other countries after agreement with Brussels, based on vaccination and low infection rates.
The certificate would be granted to citizens who had either proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test, or proof of recovery from the virus for those who had contracted it previously, according to a leaked draft seen by the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, a global poll of more than 9,000 people by poll Amadeus revealed a “significant appetite” for digital health passports if they help to open up international travel.
Brussels officials have stressed the certificate would not be a ‘passport’ but a common system to help governments co-ordinate travel measures as vaccination programmes are rolled out across the bloc.
Tourism-reliant countries such as Greece have led the push for a common framework to facilitate travel ahead of the summer season.
EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “As summer is approaching, citizens need clarity on travel and tourism.
“That is why we need to quickly take a decision on the use of vaccine certificates also for non-medical purposes.”
If agreed, the digital document will show details of vaccination, a negative test or proof of recovery from the virus confirming immunity.
But EU governments are divided over the proposals which countries such France or Germany fear will discriminate against people who through no fault of their own have not yet been vaccinated.
Vaccination programmes are slow across Europe, with the EU some two months behind the UK.
Many Europeans will not have their first dose until the end of July, August or even later, The Times reported.
Mediterranean destinations, led by Spain and Greece, have told other countries that tourism is needed this year to save their economies and have threatened to open their borders to travellers unilaterally.
The EU’s proposal is subject to agreement from a majority of member states and the European Parliament.
Iata is one of several groups to have launched its own travel pass app.
President and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac told the FT he was worried European governments would struggle to co-ordinate reopening their borders in time for the summer season.
“In Europe some – let’s say, to be polite – weaknesses in the EU approach of the vaccination strategy have not strengthened the confidence of states,” he reportedly said.
The Amadeus study across France, Germany, Spain, India, Russia, Singapore, UAE, UK and US, found that 91% would be comfortable using a digital health passport for future trips.
Around three quarters (74%) of travellers would be willing to store their travel health data electronically if it enabled them to pass through the airport with fewer face-to-face interactions
Although receptiveness is high, the survey provides advice for both policy makers and the travel industry, that
However, travellers expressed three main concerns including:
- Security risks with personal information being hacked (38%)
- Privacy concerns around what health information needs to be shared (25%)
- Lack of transparency and control over where data is shared (30%)
When thinking about solutions that could help to alleviate concerns, 41% of travellers agreed a travel app would reduce their stress around travel and 62% would be more likely to use an app to store their health data if a travel company partnered with a trusted healthcare company.