Spain puts pressure on the EU to speed up the 'vaccination passport' to help revive tourism

Fiumicino Airport in Rome. File photograph.
Fiumicino Airport in Rome. File photograph. / EUROPA PRESS
  • Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Malta and Slovakia have also called on Brussels to activate this digital certificate to allow mobility by summer

Another key summer holiday season will be at risk if the EU does not manage to unravel the debate on the so-called 'vaccination passport' in time.

That is the message that Spain, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Malta and Slovakia who support the project that is gaining more followers with greater impetus.

The countries have all stepped up their pressure on the EU during the meeting by videoconference of the tourism heads on Monday, 1 March.

Speakers urged the European Commission to speed up the introduction of the digital certificate that would allow the reactivation of non-essential travel.

Last week a virtual meeting of the heads of state and government, heard the ‘vaccination passport’ would include at least three general parameters: whether the person has been vaccinated - with identification of the type of vaccine and the number of doses received; details of negative PCR tests - if they have not yet had access to the vaccine due to their age group, for example; and immunisation, subject to the assumption that the person has antibodies after overcoming coronavirus.

The objective is to complete the technical and political procedure in the next three months so that the certificate can be launched in summer, coinciding with a key tourist season for the economy of countries like Spain.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has guaranteed to EU members that the legislative proposal will be presented this month.

"The aim is to allow Europeans to gradually move safely within the EU or abroad, for work or for tourism," she said.

Third countries

During the meeting of tourism ministers, Spain’s Reyes Maroto, welcomed the announcement while underlining "the need to advance in the adoption of common protocols to avoid prohibitions of movement of travellers within the internal market and also with third countries”. The latter was a clear reference to the United Kingdom from where more than 18 million visitors travelled to Spain in 2019.

"The certificates are a useful and effective tool to resume mobility in a safe way," said a press release from Madrid.

"Efforts must be stepped up to ensure better coordination and communication of travel-related measures at EU level in order to avoid discriminatory measures between citizens."

"It is important to have the tools ready to start mobility and to put Europe back as a safe travel destination as soon as the virus incidence data allow it."

Delays in the distribution of vaccines and the need to contain the impact of new mutations of the virus - with a much greater transmissibility - have forced the EU to maintain restrictions on non-essential movements despite the fact that the incidence of infections is decreasing in the whole of the EU.