EU ambassadors are convening in Brussels today to sign off on Digital Green Certificates – the so-called ‘vaccine passports’ – which will allow for fully vaccinated people to travel freely throughout the EU by mid-summer. The European Parliament will debate the certificates over the coming weeks but it is expected that they will signed into law by early June, after which a six-week grace period will see them come into effect by mid-July.
Once introduced, it means that EU countries will all be legally obliged to accept digital vaccine passports as proof of vaccine and exempt their holder from any quarantine requirements.
In the Civil Liberties Committee yesterday, April 13, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders underscored the proposal’s aim to facilitate free movement and non-discrimination of EU citizens during the pandemic. It provides for the creation of free digital or paper certificates on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and recovery, and would be limited to the pandemic, he added.
Reynders also reassured MEPs that the the technical infrastructure for the digital certificates would be done by the end of June.
Although this raises issues concerning Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine, it is likely that should the system still be in place by mid-summer then vaccinated arrivals will be exempt from having to quarantine. Speaking to Claire Byrne on RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne programme yesterday, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said he was of the “firm view” that vaccinated people shouldn’t have to quarantine and that it was hard to “logically explain” how vaccinated people posed a greater risk “than you or I.”