As COVID-19 infection rates begin to drop in the region, European Union ministers met in Brussels Tuesday in hopes of reaching an agreement on a "green certificate" travel pass designed to make it easier for fully vaccinated tourists to travel in the continent in time for the summer vacation season.
The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, first suggested the plan earlier this year, patterned after the so-called “Green Pass” issued in Israel that allows vaccinated people access to certain venues or events.
In Europe, the commission suggested the certificates would allow EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated, as well as those who tested negative for the virus or have proof they recovered from it, to move freely around the continent.
The EU parliament wants the COVID-19 certificates to allow easy travel, without member states imposing extra restrictions on certificate holders such as quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures. But border control is something member nations see as a sovereign right, leaving the initiative with hurdles to overcome.
Speaking to reporters before their meeting, German Europe Minister Michael Roth said solving the issue is “of the utmost importance.” He said, “This is not just important for a few. It is important for all of us because it's a symbol that means we are able to act together and to send a clear signal for freedom of movement and for mobility in the European Union."
Roths’s French counterpart, Clement Beaune, expressed confidence a solution can be reached on the travel issue. He said, though, EU coordination in the fight against COVID-19 is essential before summer begins.
The European Commission predicts about 70 percent of the EU adult population will be vaccinated by the end of the summer. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports as of Tuesday, almost 32 percent of adults in the EU have received at least one dose of vaccine.