Covid-19: EU plans rollout of “digital green pass” before summer

Updated: Mar 19

Brussels has tabled plans for some form of Covid vaccine passport with the aim of opening up travel to and within the European Union for summer.

The 27 member states will decide how to use the new digital certificate.

Vaccine passports have faced opposition from some EU member states over concerns they might be discriminatory.

Another issue raised has been that data on the efficacy of vaccines in preventing a person from carrying or passing on the virus is incomplete.

The EU aims to present its plans for a “digital green pass” on Wednesday and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that it was working to "create an international trusted framework" for safe travel, but that vaccinations should not be a condition.

Vaccination programmes are slow across Europe, and they are likely to fall far behind with the suspension of AstraZeneca jab.

The EU is two months behind the UK’s rollout and many Europeans will not have their first dose until the end of July, August or even later.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated holidaymakers have been told they will be banned from summer staycation sailings operated by P&O Cruises this summer.

Only UK residents who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine at least seven days in advance will be permitted onboard, the UK’s largest cruise line said.

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said the proposed digital green certificate would be "for all EU citizens, their families when they're leaving the EU or living abroad".

"It'll also be for the European Economic Area (EEA), because we want to work with Norway and Iceland," he said.

Mr Reynders said there was still a lot to do to put the digital certificate in place, but the aim was to get it up and running before the summer tourist season.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government was looking at the idea of vaccine passports and had been "discussing what the best way to proceed is".

"We are having debates, discussions about travel... but I think what we also have to do is be driven by the data, we've got to see how coronavirus develops," he told the BBC.

More than a third of the UK population - nearly 25 million people - have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine in the UK.