Petr Dubinsky

MEPs Approve COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

The European Parliament has finally approved the introduction of covid certificates, so-called covid passports, which should make it easier for people to travel across borders from the beginning of July. A large majority of MEPs have supported the rules requiring all EU countries to issue and recognize free certificates of vaccination, negative testing or illness.

The agreed rules guarantee EU citizens that their country will issue them with a digital or paper certificate free of charge on request, which will allow them to travel to other EU countries without exception, with a few exceptions. The certificates will be available to fully vaccinated people, owners of fresh PCR or antigen tests with a negative result, or people who have had the disease in the last six months.

MEPs approved the regulation on passports by 546 to 93. Their final confirmation is up to the Member States, which also have the system in place. Before the vote, some MEPs expressed concern about several adjustments made by member states when negotiating certificates.

States may, in exceptional and justified cases, require additional conditions, such as quarantines, from passport holders. In addition, countries are not obliged to provide people with free tests for the purpose of the certificate, which Members have sought to prevent discrimination against the unvaccinated. The tests are to be “affordable”, while a number of countries expect various rates of free tests, to which the European Commission will contribute 100 million euros (over 2.5 billion crowns) from EU money.

Countries will have to recognize all vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), but will also be able to voluntarily accept other products such as the Russian Sputnik V. debates await. Some countries have already indicated that they do not intend to recognize it until the EMA has been approved.