The EU said Thursday that it aims to work on a common approach to vaccine certificates to enable those vaccinated against the coronavirus to travel freely and integrate the certificates into the health and border systems of member countries.
EU leaders took part in a virtual summit to discuss the bloc’s response to new challenges of the pandemic as well as the future of EU security and defense policies.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and European leaders held a press conference after the summit.
Von der Leyen said the certificates could be available by the summer as the bloc needs three months to create a technical framework.
She also cited Israel's work tracking and documenting a person's vaccination history on so-called Green Passes while stressing the importance of maintaining the functionality of the European single market.
Von der Leyen said the European Commission was working to create a “gateway for interoperability between nations” and noted that it would take about three months for the Commission to get the system in place. She said member states would have to act fast if the program was to be implemented by the summer.
Michel also stated that the bloc's priority was speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines and vaccinations. In a warning to vaccine makers, he said they wanted more predictability and transparency to ensure that pharmaceutical companies comply with their commitments.
The European Commission is currently working on a system of digital vaccine certificates, initially for medical purposes.
It will be up to EU leaders to decide when and how the document could be used for travel once more data is available on the effects of vaccinations.
On Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will join EU leaders to discuss the bloc’s security and defense policy.
The EU heads of state and governments will also talk about the bloc’s relations with the countries of the southern neighborhood – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia.
By Omer Tugrul Cam and Ata Ufuk Seker