Health

EU official warns against hasty launch of vaccine passports

Caution should be exercised with timing of such certificates, says head of European Council

Agnes Szucs   | 18.01.2021
EU official warns against hasty launch of vaccine passports

BRUSSELS 

Introducing COVID-19 vaccine certificates for travel too early would create enormous frustration in Europe, the president of the European Council said Sunday.

In an interview with Dutch public television, Charles Michel warned that caution should be exercised with the timing of such certificates.

Michel said a great number of people should get vaccinated before an EU-wide vaccine passport is adopted.

He also noted that the topic of travel vaccine certificates is “sensitive in many European countries because some of them would have the impression that a certificate makes vaccination mandatory.”

In a letter to the European Commission last Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis proposed an EU-wide COVID-19 vaccination certificate for travel.

In an attempt to save the coming tourist season, he suggested granting free movement to those who have already been vaccinated.

Although Mitsotakis dismissed the idea of making vaccination compulsory or a prerequisite for travel, his suggestion has already divided EU leaders.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he did not support it because it would “divide the population of Europe in two.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the idea of certificates a “medical necessity” on Friday but warned of the difficulty of making a political decision on what kind of privileges the document should allow.

EU leaders are supposed to continue the debate at their upcoming videoconference on the coordination of a response to COVID-19 on Jan. 21.

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