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EU to Propose Digital COVID-19 Vaccine 'Passport', von der Leyen Says as Travel Industry Woes Grow

© AFP 2023 / JOHANNA GERONEuropean Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen looks on as she arrives at the European Parliament to explains the European Union's vaccine strategy to European Parliament, in Brussels, on February 10, 2021.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen looks on as she arrives at the European Parliament to explains the European Union's vaccine strategy to European Parliament, in Brussels, on February 10, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.03.2021
The announcement comes amid growing calls from EU member-states to adopt the passports amid concerns over a major decline in the bloc's tourism industry, with others stating the documents could be prematurely imposed amid a lack of understanding of current vaccination efforts.

Brussels is set to propose a digital vaccination passport across the European Union, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen confirmed on Monday.

“As for the question of what the digital green passport could look like: we will submit a legislative proposal in March”, she told German lawmakers in a video conference.

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The announcement comes as numerous countries badly hit by downturns in the tourism industry, namely Israel and Greece, have adopted vaccine certificates. Sweden and Denmark have entered talks on developing similar measures.

According to Reuters, Greek tourism plummeted to just €4bn in 2020, down from €18bn the year before. Greece relies heavily on tourism, which employs 20 percent of all workers and comprises one-fifth of the economy.

Who Backs the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Passport?

The digital certificates would allow travellers who have previously received the vaccine freedom of travel across the EU.

A deal between Greece and Israel was struck in early February to ease travel restrictions with proof of vaccination.

But some nations in the 27-member bloc have opposed the measures, with France and Germany stating it would be too early to permit the passports due to weak data on vaccine efficacy, according to the BBC, adding people not prioritised to receive vaccines could also face discrimination, sparking further concerns.

Additional complications over spread of the new English, Brazilian and South African variants would increase demand over booster jabs, the report added.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was pressing for a digital pass similar to Israel and pledged state visits to Tel Aviv along with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in March.

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​German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said most nations agreed a digital vaccination certificate may be needed by the summer, reports found.

The news comes after a row between the Commission and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca due to the latter failing to provide sufficient jabs in its first-quarter deliveries.

"These are 255 million people in the European Union, and if we look at the planned figures, this is a goal we are confident we'll reach", von der Leyen said about reaching 70 percent vaccination by September.

Further concerns over the vaccine's efficacy come amid a South African study, which revealed the Anglo-Swedish jabs offered "minimum" efficacy among younger people.

But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, who said the COVID-19 jabs were effective at tackling the novel strain of the virus, despite growing criticism.


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