EU to propose vaccine certificates in time for summer holidays

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will propose this month an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer.

The EU executive aims to present its plans for a “digital green pass” on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union.

The pass would provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, the results of tests for those not yet vaccinated and information on recovery for people who have contracted COVID-19.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism,” Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.

The Commission wants to establish an EU-wide system to prevent separate deals being hatched between EU countries that would fragment its internal market and to avoid finding itself subject to a system set by a third country or by a tech giant.

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said vaccine deliveries would sharply increase in the coming months.

“Vaccine rollouts must follow as well so there are no gaps and no vaccines are left unused,” she told a news conference.

EU leaders agreed last week to work on vaccine certificates, with southern member states such as Spain and Greece particularly keen to unlock tourism this summer.

However, it is not yet clear whether vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to others. Some countries, such as France and Belgium, have also expressed concern that easing travel only for inoculated people would be unfair.

The Commission said it wanted to avoid any discrimination.

EU countries would be free to set their own criteria for entry, although broadly open borders make this a difficult task.