Member States may not impose quarantines or other restrictions on travelers holding the Common European Certificate.
The Covid passport that the European Union prepares to be able to restart travel in summer will serve to certify that a person has received the Covid-19 vaccine, but also if have a recent negative test (PCR or antigens) or have recovered from the coronavirus. However, while vaccines are free throughout the EU, the price of a PCR test can well exceed 100 euros depending on the country.
The European Parliament wants to put an end to this discrimination and asks that virus detection tests or serological tests (for example among people who have not yet received the vaccine) are also free. This will be one of the main demands of the European Parliament in the negotiation of the Covid passport with the Council, where the Governments of the Twenty-seven are represented.
“The Member States shall ensure universal, accessible, timely and free test possibilities in order to guarantee the right to freedom of movement within the Union without discrimination on economic or financial grounds“, says the compromise amendment that will be approved this Thursday in the European Parliament, since it has the support of the main political groups.
“The European Parliament demands that the certificate be free of charge. But it also demands that all Member States put the necessary means to remove any economic discrimination related to the cost of the tests, and therefore that the tests are also free “, explains to EL ESPAÑOL the MEP of the PSOE Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, president of the Committee on Freedoms of the Parliament and rapporteur of the regulation on the Covid passport.
The position of the European Parliament on free PCR testing is not final. Parliamentarians must now reach a compromise with the Governments of the Twenty-seven, which do not contemplate this possibility in their preliminary agreement. Negotiations will begin next week and the objective is to definitively approve this instrument at the beginning of July, in order for it to be operational in time for the summer.
The other prominent amendment being promoted by Parliament prohibits member states from imposing travel restrictions on Covid passport holders, such as quarantines or the obligation to self-isolate. Both the original Brussels proposal and the preliminary agreement of the Twenty-Seven leave it up to the Member States to decide as a last resort. what limitations will be imposed on vaccinated people. The only requirement is to apply them in the same way to all those who have the certificate, regardless of their nationality.
“This is a strong point of the position of the European Parliament, knowing that we are going to have a tense discussion with the Council“says López Aguilar.” Without a doubt, the Council will try to maintain its sovereign competence to impose additional restrictive measures on the free movement of people. But Parliament is going to maintain a firm position that the certificate must suffice, it must exempt the imposition of any other unilateral restrictive measure by the Member States, “he insists.
“What it is about is to recover an economic activity that is so relevant for the whole of the EU, and in particular for some Member States, such as tourism. That it once again experiences growth, instead of the collapse bordering on the catastrophe of the last year. Therefore, Member States should refrain from imposing any mandatory restrictions on the bearer of the EU Covid certificate“, argues the MEP of the PSOE.
For the rest, the European Parliament claims that the only recognized vaccines in the Covid passport are those that have been authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), but also those that are recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). Not so those that countries like Hungary have unilaterally approved. The validity of the regulation will expire 12 months after its entry into force: Parliament does not want this certificate to become a permanent requirement for travel.
This instrument has been driven by the southern countries most dependent on tourism, in particular Spain and Greece. They see it as a vital initiative to save the summer season and reactivate the economy after the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic. The initiative generates many reservations in other Member States, such as France or Belgium, who are opposed to the passport granting special rights to vaccinated people, because the immunized population rate is very low and the injection is not compulsory.