Less than three months after the publication of the Commission’s proposal, the European Parliament’s LIBE committee and the Council have approved the Regulation on “EU Digital COVID Certificate”.
The Alliance recognises this is both positive and necessary to restore freedom of movement: a fundamental principle and one of Europe’s greatest achievements. This tool will greatly facilitate cross-border travel, also allowing Europeans to reconnect with families and friends and do business in person after months of lockdowns and restrictions.
As a common EU instrument, the “Digital COVID Certificate” (DCC) will provide convenient proof that the holder has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, recovered from the virus, or received a negative test result.
The Alliance urges Member States to ensure swift and effective implementation of the Certificate by 1st July 2021 at the latest, and refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on certificate holders (testing or quarantine), in line with the agreement reached between the EU Institutions. The travel and tourism stakeholders stress that any delay will undermine the chances of a successful recovery: sectoral resilience is at its limit.
Re-opening is justified by the latest ECDC data on the epidemiological situation: the COVID-19 third wave is receding throughout Europe. The vaccination roll-out is accelerating: 46% of adults in the EU had received their first dose as of 25th May, ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected.
The Alliance also welcomes the EU Institutions’ agreement to make €100m available from the Emergency Support Instrument, allowing Member States to purchase COVID-19 tests. These should be made “affordable and accessible” to all travellers, and thereby minimise the risk of economic discrimination.
In its latest Communication on the industrial strategy, the European Commission recognised that travel and tourism was the sector “hardest hit” and that recovery would also be slow for transport. While the Alliance is confident that the DCC will support reopening, to increase the chance of success, urgent agreement and coordination among Member States is still required on the following:
- Common time limits for COVID-19 testing requirements (such as <24hrs prior for antigen test, <72hrs for PCR test);
- A harmonised minimum age for children at which a COVID-19 test is required, helping families to plan their trips;
- No additional requirements on transit passengers in transportation hubs;
- Swift adoption of the European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) which should be linked to the DCC to improve efficiency when boarding passengers and avoiding long queues at transport hubs.
These measures would help restore confidence in cross-border travel, and guarantee a smooth experience for travellers exercising their freedom of movement.
“The agreement reached at EU level on Digital COVID Certificate is a step towards the reintroduction of Schengen and the freedom of movement throughout the EU. Europeans are looking forward to cross-border travel this summer, whether for visiting families and friends, leisure or business. We call on Member States to urgently implement the Certificate and refrain from adding travel requirements for Certificate holders if the epidemiological situation continues improving”, state the stakeholders.