The EU and the US are negotiating on adapting their vaccine certificate systems, a European Commission official said on Monday.
“We are already in touch with our US counterparts about the certificates to ensure coherence and compatibility,” Adalbert Jahnz, spokesperson on home affairs and citizenship, told the European Commission’s daily press briefing.
He commented on an interview given by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to US daily New York Times in which she said that fully vaccinated US travelers should be allowed to enter the EU by the summer.
“The use of EMA-approved vaccines will help to enable travel to the EU,” Jahnz pointed out, referring to the jabs authorized by the European Medicine Agency.
“We seek to restart transatlantic travel as soon as it is safe to do so,” he said, adding that the European Commission was amending its recommendation on travel restrictions regarding non-EU countries.
- Individual or country-based recognition
In addition to that, the EU executive body is examining two options for non-EU citizens to have their vaccine certificates recognized in order to travel to the EU, Christian Wigand, spokesperson for justice affairs, explained at the same press conference.
One option might be “on the individual level, if you can prove your vaccination started” in order to enter the bloc’s territory for non-essential reasons, Wigand said.
The second option is to agree with countries on mutual recognition of vaccine certificates, like the bloc is doing now with the US.
According to Wigand, several countries applied last week seeking a similar framework solution.
The bloc decided to restrict the entry of non-EU nationals to its territory in March 2020 in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Currently, only residents of Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand can travel with any non-essential reason to the EU.
However, the European Commission is only responsible for proposing recommendation on imposing or lifting travel restriction on citizens from non-EU countries in order to encourage EU member states to coordinate their actions.
In reality, EU countries can freely decide to whom to open their borders.
For example, Greece decided to open its borders to citizens from the US, UK, Israel, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates in April despite EU recommendations.
In a similar way, EU countries may also decide to authorize the entry of non-EU nationals who were vaccinated with Russian or Chinese jabs despite recommendations.
The EU drugs agency already approved the vaccines produced by pharmaceutical companies BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, while it is currently reviewing the Russian Sputnik V.
By Agnes Szucs