‘Green passport’ scheme for Covid-free EU travel gathers pace

     Greece and another 12 European Union member-states have agreed on the outlines of a scheme aimed at ensuring safe travel

and boosting tourism within the bloc following last year’s poor summer season, Austria Press Agency reported on Monday.

According to the report, Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Kostinger said that the member-states hammered out the details of a proposal for a “green passport” first introduced earlier this year and will forward them to the European Commission for approval, with an eye to a launch by June at the latest.

She explained that the scheme consists of a certificate confirming that travelers are “Covid-free” by producing evidence of proper vaccination against the novel coronavirus, having recently recovered from the infection and been given a clean bill of health, or having recently tested negative for the virus.

According to the report, the information will be stored on a QR code linked to a national rather than a shared system that could raise questions about data protection violations.

Apart from Greece and Austria, the scheme also includes Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

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TRAVEL

The European Union’s executive body on Wednesday proposed the introduction of coronavirus passes to let its 450 million residents travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by the summer.

The plan, which will be discussed next week during a summit of EU leaders, foresees the creation of vaccine certificates aimed at facilitating travel from one member state to the other.

The topic has been discussed for weeks and proved to be a divisive topic. The travel industry and southern European countries dependent on tourism like Greece and Spain have been pushing for the quick introduction of the measure, which could help avoid quarantines and testing requirements.

But several member states, including France, argued that it would be premature and discriminatory to introduce such passes since a large majority of EU citizens haven’t had access to vaccines so far.

To secure the agreement of all member states, the European Commission proposed that its so-called Digital Green Certificates, which should be free of charge, would be delivered to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated, but also to those who tested negative for the virus or have proof they recovered from it. [AP]






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