The European Union has reached a deal on Covid-19 certificates that will open up the bloc for summer tourism.
Negotiations throughout the week between MEPs and the representatives of the members states ended with agreement on the issuance of the certificates, which will display whether a person has been vaccinated, gotten a negative test or recovered from the virus.
“We won’t be repeating the nightmare of summer 2020,” Spanish MEP and leading negotiator Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar told a news conference.
The EU Covid-19 Certificate will be available for free and will be in the form of a QR code. The code will be available digitally through a smartphone or printed on paper.
White smoke: we have a deal on the Commission’s proposal on the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) May 20, 2021
Although member states and the European Parliament were largely in agreement on the idea of a Covid certificate, there were differences over the cost of Covid tests and the rights of individual states to impose additional testing restrictions and quarantine requirements.
MEPs had insisted on free testing and that no EU country should impose additional restrictions. Sweden and Germany were particularly resistant, but agreement was finally reached whereby EU countries would refrain from imposing extra restrictions unless considered necessary on public health grounds. Such measures must be notified to other member states and the Commission at least 48 hours in advance of their imposition.
It is unclear what this means for Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine, which is one of the toughest restrictions in the EU and currently Belgium, France and Luxembourg among the 55 countries on its so-called ‘red list.’
The European Commission has also committed €100 million of emergency support money to help bring down the cost of testing, with another €100 million available if required.
Certificates from June
The agreement between the various EU institutions will allow the Parliament to pass a law in the first week of June that will mandate the use of the EU Covid-19 Certificate. More than a dozen countries will test the system before it is launched across the bloc at the end of June.
Member states are obliged to accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).