EU sets binding nine-month validity for Covid-19 travel pass
The European Commission adopted rules on Tuesday that will make the European Union’s Covid-19 certificate valid for travel nine months after the completion of the primary vaccination schedule.
The proposal comes as several EU states introduce additional requirements for travelers in a bid to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Reuters the European Commission was against additional requirements and was assessing the measures.
The new rules will be binding on all 27 EU states from February 1. The rule can be blocked by a qualified majority of EU governments or a simple majority of members of the European Parliament, but officials said it has sufficient support.
The rule replaces a non-binding recommendation presented by the European Commission in November.
Once the rule comes into force, EU states will be required to let fully vaccinated travelers with a valid pass into their territory. However, as an exception justified by a deteriorating situation, they could still impose additional requirements, such as negative tests or quarantines, as long as they are proportionate.
Seven EU states currently require fully vaccinated travelers from other EU countries to also present a negative Covid-19 test on arrival, measures that some see as damaging the credibility of the EU pass. EU.
The states are Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria.
“We prefer to use for free movement in Europe only the certificate without additional measures,” said Reynders.
He noted that the additional requirements could be justified by concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant, but that governments had to prove that they were proportionate and necessary.
The Commission was still assessing the measures, Reynders said, adding that infringement procedures for time-limited restrictions made little sense.
National measures are mostly limited to the Christmas period, although those in Italy extend until the end of January.
The new rules only apply to international travel.
Governments may have a different duration of the Covid-19 pass for access to indoor events or activities on their territory.
After a recall, the validity of the Covid-19 pass will be further extended without a fixed limit, because at the moment there is not enough information on the duration of protection against recalls, an EU official said.
A primary vaccination schedule against Covid-19 currently consists in the EU of two injections of vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna, or a single injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. [Reuters]