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Free travel through Europe this summer? This is what you need to know about the corona passport


Camping on Lake Garda, a city trip to Barcelona or on the terrace on the Côte d’Azur: due to the corona measures, this was not possible for a year or with strict restrictions. But, with the arrival of the so-called EU-covid19 certificate, that changes. That is, if you have been vaccinated, tested negative or can prove that you are immune to the virus.

The rules in all EU countries are different: sometimes you have to show a negative test, or in quarantine for five days, or for a week. The European Union wants to make it easier to travel. Holidaymakers long for it and tourism also craves income.

There is agreement

The certificate is a solution, but its arrival will not happen automatically. For example, an important condition of many countries is that not only people who have been vaccinated can travel with the pass. People’s privacy must also remain protected and there is still a debate about whether or not to make PCR tests free.

After long deliberations, the European Commission, the European Member States and the European Parliament have agreed on the conditions. That is just in time for parliament to approve the digital certificate before this summer.

1. What will the pass look like?

Travelers will soon be able to demonstrate with a QR code that they have been vaccinated against the corona virus, have been tested negative or have already undergone an infection and are therefore protected. This can be on paper, but also digitally on your mobile phone or in an app.

If this code is then scanned at, for example, Schiphol, it can be read whether a person is ‘green’.

2. Who will it apply to?

You can get the corona passport in three ways. The first is if you have been vaccinated with a corona vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The second is if you have a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours. The third if you can prove that you have had corona and are immune because your body has produced antibodies.

3. Are you assured of completely free travel in Europe with the certificate?

No, it is not completely free, to the dismay of the parliament, which would have liked to see the different quarantine rules per country give way to unambiguity. “At one point in the negotiations I had the impression that the member states cared more about their powers than about the rights of their citizens,” says CDA MEP Jeroen Lenaers.

Member States would like to determine the rules themselves. This means that if the situation surrounding the coronavirus deteriorates, member states may again impose quarantine rules on tourists. They can also ask to take another test. And they even retain the option to close the border. The European Parliament has no say in this.

However, countries may also say that none of the three options is necessary for us.

4. Will the PCR test be free?

Not for now. Parliament really wanted that, but member states, including the Netherlands, do not think that Brussels determines whether a country gives free tests. So the discussion was mainly about who decides. A majority of the House of Representatives is in favor of free testing.

A PCR test is quite expensive: with many Dutch providers around 100 euros per person. If you want to go on holiday as a family, you have to spend hundreds of euros on tests.

D66 MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld and GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik, among others, are disappointed that testing will not be free throughout Europe. “If PCR tests are mandatory for travel in the EU, they should be free. It remains unfair to pay for a test if you have not yet had the chance to get vaccinated, when vaccination is free. We continue to put pressure on to make more money available for this, ”says Strik.

According to them, a first step has been taken when it comes to keeping the tests affordable. For example, European countries together receive 100 million euros to reduce the costs of PCR tests.

5. Does it matter which vaccine I received?

Member States must accept all corona vaccines approved by the EMA. We are talking about the vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Whether the member states accept other vaccines individually, such as a Chinese or Russian vaccine, is up to them. In any case, these vaccines must have approval from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The intention is that the digital corona passport will be ready by the end of June, but whether all EU countries succeed is a second. The Netherlands seems to be well on schedule, says an insider. In two weeks’ time, Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) will send a letter to the House of Representatives, which will clarify more about how the travel pass works.

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