European Union lawmakers on Wednesday approved a new travel certificate that will allow people to move between member countries of the bloc without having to quarantine themselves or undergo additional coronavirus tests, just in time for the season summer tourist.
The long-awaited certificate aims to save the European travel industry and major tourist sites from another disastrous summer. Key travel destinations such as Greece were behind the rapid introduction of the certificate, which will feature both paper and digital forms.
Several EU countries have already started using the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland.
Traveling between the 27 EU countries is a hardship for tourists and airlines today. Countries have various COVID-19 ‘traffic light’ systems, where those in green are considered safe and those in red to be avoided. But each nation has different rules and standards, making travel confusing for everyone.
The new regulations governing vaccination certificates were passed in two votes in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. The rules for EU citizens were adopted by 546 votes to 93, with 51 abstentions. Those of people outside the bloc fell from 553 to 91, with 46 abstentions.
The vote has yet to be approved by each EU country, but it is probably a formality.
Under the new system, which starts July 1 and lasts 12 months, all EU countries must recognize the vaccination certificate. They will be issued free of charge and will certify that a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or has recovered from the disease.
The rules will not be heavily enforced for the first six weeks, to allow countries to prepare.
The laissez-passer will be issued by individual nations, not by a centralized European system. They will contain a QR code with advanced security features. Personal data will not be shared with other countries.
Spanish socialist lawmaker Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, who chaperoned votes in Parliament, said: “EU states are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions unless it is strictly necessary and proportionate “.
People coming from outside the EU will be able to obtain a certificate if they can convince the authorities of the EU country they are entering that they are entitled to it.