EU introduces digital vaccine ‘green pass’

Written by Alain Tolhurst on 2 March 2021 in News
News

UK officials will talk to European counterparts about operation of system that allows individuals to demonstrate they have been vaccinated

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Downing Street has confirmed UK officials will speak to their EU counterparts after Brussels unveiled plans for a digital coronavirus vaccine passport.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen confirmed on Monday that legislation for a "digital green pass" will be published later this month.  She said it will provide “proof that a person has been vaccinated” against Covid-19, as well as details of tests, and “should facilitate Europeans‘ lives”.

The EU chief added: “The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism.”

Von der Leyen has previously cast doubt on whether a vaccine passport would be used for travel in and out of the bloc or to reopen the tourism industry.

“The time frame, the three months is regarding the technical development, so we do need at least three months for the technical development of an interoperable system on the European level”, she said last week. “There is lots of work to do by the Commission on the European level and lots of work to do technically for the member states on the national level.”


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The prime minister’s official spokesperson confirmed that an ongoing work around vaccine passport proposals will include discussions with the EU to establish how such systems would work.

“You can expect DfT (the Department for Transport) will work [with], and do speak to countries across the world in terms of how they may look to introduce passports.”

The spokesperson said Michael Gove and the Cabinet Office are leading the research into “Covid status certification". 

“Of course, you can expect them to speak to EU and other countries on how they may implement any similar to policies conversations on vaccine rollout,” they added.

The European Commission’s announcement of an EU-wide digital pass comes after Greece announced it would create its own vaccine passport system.

They and other member states who rely heavily on tourism have been pushing for ways to allow international travel again to help boost their economies.

The European Commission’s chief spokesperson said: “We’re of the view that in collaboration with the WHO (World Health Organisation) there should be a way to scale this up globally. We work on a European solution now, this is where we start and then anything else would need to come after. We need to take this step by step. Certainly that’s not the end of the story. There are lots of different angles that will need to be tackled.”

 

About the author

Alain Tolhurst is chief reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @Alain_Tolhurst.

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