EU lawmakers and nations reach compromise on COVID-19 passes


BRUSSELS — European Union legislators and member countries found a compromise Thursday for launching COVID-19 certificates before the summer holiday season, a move aimed at boosting travel and tourism following the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.

The various players managed to reconcile their differences during another round of discussions, paving the way for the trans-border travel passes to be introduced before the summer season kicks off.

When it proposed the certificate plan in March, the executive European Commission said the documents would be given to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated, as well as those who tested negative for the virus or had proof they recovered from COVID-19.

EU lawmakers and nations agreed on that, but the European Parliament insisted that COVID-19 certificates should be enough to allow EU citizens to move about freely, and that EU countries shouldn’t be allowed to impose extra restrictions on certificate-holders, such as quarantines and more tests.

Since border controls are a national responsibility, EU member nations were not ready to relinquish their prerogatives. Another roadblock was the price of tests, as lawmakers insisted the tests should be free of charge,

Under the compromise sealed Thursday, the European Commission said it would allocate 100 million euros in EU funds ($122 million) for the purchase of virus tests compatible with the certificates.

“If necessary, additional funding…could be mobilized, subject to approval by the budgetary authority,” the commission said in a written declaration seen by The Associated Press.

As for the extra travel requirements that EU members might be tempted to introduce, the 27 nations agreed “they shall refrain” from imposing additional restrictions “unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.”

The proposal should now go to member states for formal adoption and to the European Parliament for ratification during its next plenary session in June.

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