The ‘Covid passport’ that will allow free movement between EU countries is expected to enter into force on July 1 according to the agreement reached Thursday by the Member States – represented by the Council of the EU – and the European Parliament after intense negotiations in which, however, the European Parliament has failed to ensure that one of the documents that citizens must prove, the negative PCRs, are free. Instead, the pact includes a commitment by the European Commission to make 100 million euros available to European governments to “lower” the cost of these tests.
In addition, with a negative PCR, Europeans will be able to move between EU countries by proving that they have been vaccinated against Covid or have antibodies due to having passed the disease. According to the terms of the agreement reached on Thursday, the health authorities of each Member State will be responsible for issuing the certificate for their citizens, when they are vaccinated or when they have a diagnostic test -PCR or antigens- or it is accredited that they have antibodies for coronavirus infection.
The ‘Covid passport’, which from now on will be called “EU Digital Covid Certificate”, will come into force on July 1. At that time, will begin to count a period of six weeks in which all documents of this type that are already using European countries or regions must be “replaced” by the European whose bases have been agreed on Thursday.
Regarding the price of the PCR, the European Parliament has obtained a commitment from the European Commission that it will mobilize 100 million euros – in addition to another 35 million from the emergency fund – to “lower” its cost, although tourists are not expected to benefit from it. According to the text of the agreement, they will be “particularly so that people can cross the border who are going to their workplaces, educational centers, for family reasons, to their medical center or to take care of people to their loved ones”.
He has not detailed how these cheaper PCRs will be accessible and will be less and less necessary as vaccination progresses and because the ‘Covid passport’ will also accept antigen tests (negative), which are cheaper.
On the other hand, one of the demands of the Member States that were unacceptable to the European Parliament in principle is maintained: the possibility that governments can impose additional measures restricting free movement, which the ‘Covid passport’ restores.
The ‘digital passport’ will be available in paper and digital format and although it will be possible to travel with vaccination, with a negative diagnostic test or with the accreditation that one has antibodies, the details on these last two options are not specified in the agreement of this Thursday. It is not detailed how many times someone will have to undergo a PCR to travel in Europe this summer or the duration of the serological test.
As a novelty with respect to the initial proposals, European citizens living outside the EU will be able to have the Certificate from their country of origin accrediting that they have been vaccinated, provided that they have been vaccinated with a serum authorized in the EU.
This rule will apply in general terms, also for Europeans living in the EU and wishing to travel between its Member States because the ‘Covid passport’ will only recognize those vaccinated with sera authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which for the time being leaves out vaccines such as the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.