BRUSSELS — IATA and a long list of Europe’s aviation, travel and tourism sector associations are applauding yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament on the EU’s proposed Digital Green Certificate Regulation.
The EU is now one step closer to reopening travel across the 27-country bloc for summer 2021, in the wake of vaccination rollouts.
As reported earlier this week, the EU has also indicated that it is open to welcoming back fully vaccinated U.S. visitors.
“Swift action and alignment among the institutions is now critical in order to make the certificates operational by June and ensure reciprocity with non-EU systems,” says a statement from a dozen European airline and travel associations, including IATA, CLIA, ECTAA and the ETC.
“Common, interoperable, secure and GDPR-compliant health certificates represent an essential tool to facilitate the free movement of people within the EU and reopen travel in a safe and responsible way through the easing, and ultimately lifting of current travel restrictions.”
EU legislators said Thursday in their negotiating position on the European Commission’s proposal that EU governments should not impose quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures on certificate holders.
The news comes as the industry heard indications from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week that Canada could be moving closer to vaccination certificates for international travel. “Naturally, it is to be expected,” said Trudeau on April 27.
The Parliament position brings forward important changes to the original proposal:
- A new name, ‘EU COVID-19 Certificate’ has been agreed to make it clearer to EU citizens and also limit the certificates’ use to during the pandemic.
- Free and accessible testing: Testing is key in the fight against COVID-19, and the requirement to conduct pre-departure tests (often PCR) should not create an economic distortion between travellers. With tests ranging from €10 to €150, it is clear that such high costs could become a deterrent to travel – in particular among families, say the associations.
- Full equality among vaccinated and tested citizens: No additional measures such as quarantine or further testing should be imposed on travellers presenting a valid ‘EU COVID-19 Certificate’.
The associations say: “The proposed amendments send a strong political message from the Parliament on the urgency to restore free movement in the EU. This is not a privilege — it is a right as one of the pillars of the single market enshrined in the European treaties. Safely and swiftly re-establishing free movement is both possible and vitally important – not only for holidaymakers, but also for cross-border workers and citizens who will be able to visit their families more easily once the certificates are operational.”
They note that vaccination drives in Europe continue to gain momentum. Just over one-quarter of EU residents have received at least one dose, compared to 16% a month ago.
With file from The Associated Press