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EU Commission cautious with ‘unilateral’ moves on vaccination passports

25 February 2021

Diplomatic sources told EURACTIV that technically, every member state can act unilaterally as its part of the borders’ management.

The European Commission is cautious when EU member states move to unilaterally issue a certificate offering travel privileges to those vaccinated, EU sources told, suggesting a unified approach instead.

Unilateral vaccine passports “would pose some problems as at the end of the day we are all in the common Schengen area,” an EU source said. “We cannot have Israeli and British tourists granted with benefits while citizens of the Schengen area are excluded,” the source added.

For the time being, travel outside the Union is largely restricted.

“There is an ongoing political debate, but in no way such a measure should cause discrimination,” the EU source added.

EU leaders will on Thursday (25 February) discuss Greece’s proposal to issue a travel certificate for those who took a COVID-19 vaccine shot. Such a certificate would save travelers the hassle of going through coronavirus tests or observing a quarantine when going abroad.

However, Europeans have so far been divided over the issue.

The Greek proposal is backed mainly by countries whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism, such as Cyprus, Spain, Malta, Portugal, while Italy. Estonia also back the idea.

Opponents include Romania, Germany and France, who have expressed their disagreement, at least for now, saying that Europe cannot have a certificate for travel reasons until all EU citizens have equal access to the vaccines.

These countries have also expressed doubts over whether the current vaccines offer sufficient protection against the new COVID-19 variants.

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