Thirteen EU countries, including Cyprus and Greece, are turning up the heat on the European Commission to ratify the introduction of Green passports for vaccinated tourists to reboot travel within the bloc.
Elisabeth Kostinger, Austria’s tourism minister heading the group of 13, sent a letter to Brussels urging the Commission to adopt their proposal for restarting the tourism sector in Europe by June.
A Cyprus Transport Ministry source confirmed the initiative.
A so-called Green Passport allows people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19, or carry a negative PCR test to travel freely within the EU.
The matter was first discussed on 29 March during a teleconference with Austria, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Italy.
Kostinger’s letter argues that EU citizens should be given a Green Passport if they comply with one of the criteria of either being vaccinated, tested, or recovered from COVID-19 without discrimination.
She said the travel document could not be considered ‘a trick’ to force people to get vaccinated, as they can present a negative COVID test recorded in the green passport.
Countries backing the green passport argue the introduction of such a document should be achieved through a safe and user-friendly technical solution.
Data should be shared on a common platform, but personal health information should not be stored on a central database at the EU level but only be kept by the member state of origin.
“The ‘green passport’ will indicate if someone has been vaccinated, recovered or tested with the scanning of a single QR code.
“This should be implemented in a simple and user-friendly way at a European level,” Kostinger told reporters.
A QR code contains three certificates regarding vaccinations, testing or recovery from the virus.
The digital document will be issued free of charge and valid throughout the pandemic.
It will contain only the most essential and COVID-related personal data (identification, vaccine used, batch number, date, and place of vaccination/test).
The certificate will not be a requirement for travel but rather a facilitating factor.