The European Union will introduce legislation to introduce a vaccine passport this month, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday.
In a statement released on social media, von der Leyen said that the vaccine passport will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet, and information related to a successful recovery from the Chinese virus.
The vaccine passport has been dubbed the “Digital Green Pass”, presumably after the Israeli scheme of the same name. Greece, which has been one of the main proponents of the scheme, already signed a ‘trial run‘ of a Green Pass system with Israel last month.
The EU Commission president claimed that the vaccine passport “will respect data protection, security [and] privacy,” adding: “the Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives.”
“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” von der Leyen wrote.
The introduction of a vaccine passport was signalled last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who claimed that “everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate,” following a virtual EU coronavirus summit on Thursday.
Merkel said that such a system could be put in place before the summer holiday season, but cautioned that a vaccine passport should not “mean that only those who have a vaccination passport are allowed to travel.”
The move to introduce the legislation has apparently caught some within the bloc off guard, however, with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès writing: “For Belgium, there is no question of linking vaccination to the freedom of movement around Europe.
“Respect for the principle of non-discrimination is more fundamental than ever since vaccination is not compulsory and access to the vaccine is not yet generalized.”
According to The Telegraph, Downing Street has indicated that Brexit Britain is already set to hold talks with the EU over the passport scheme.
“We have said that we are looking at the issue of vaccine passports. As you can expect, DfT (the Department for Transport) will work and do speak to countries across the world in terms of how they may look to introduce passports,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“Of course you can expect us to speak to the EU and other countries on how they may implement any similar sorts of policies,” the spokesman added.
After months of denying coronavirus vaccine passports would be deployed domestically, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has begun to signal that it will look to require Britons to carry papers in order to go to the pub or the theatre.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove — who has previously ouright denied that the government would implement such draconian measures — has been tapped by Mr Johnson to research the development of a so-called ‘Covid Status Certification’ vaccine passport.
Mr Johnson defended the idea by saying: “I know the fervent libertarians will object but other people will think that there is case for it.”