To enable travel even before a possible “eradication” of the coronavirus, a vaccination certificate is probably essential for the time being. At least, many travel companies already announced that proof of vaccination will be required for travel. However, this is not to be a vaccination certificate in paper form. Similar to Israel, there is to be a digital vaccination certificate in the EU. By the peak travel season in summer, the technical requirements for a corresponding solution are to be created. In particular, the individual national digital vaccination cards are to be linked together. This was announced yesterday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the special summit on the corona pandemic.
Collaboration of all member states
According to EU Council President Charles Michel, the digital vaccine ace is on the right track. For example, the 27 member states of the European Union are getting closer to fulfilling their vision of a digital solution. But only because all states are working together on the development, the scope of the digital document should ultimately be in the decision-making power of each member. In particular, the rights to be granted by the passport can be decided by each country. The initiative to bring such a document into being is mainly due to countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Austria. These and other EU members would like to give more freedoms to their vaccinated or recovering population.
In the first wave of the Corona pandemic, Israel did not really do well. Many people died as a result of a timely relaxation policy. As negatively as the government’s efforts were received by the population last year, the country’s vaccination strategy now seems to be effective. In the meantime (as of 26.02.21), 50 percent of the Israeli population has already received its first vaccination. But it is not only in vaccination that the government of Israel is scoring points. Parallel to administering the vaccine, Israel has also launched the so-called Green Passport. This gives the vaccinated or recovered population more freedom and allows them, for example, to go back to the gym or visit the theater. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has taken Israel as a shining example for this reason. Southern countries are also hoping for major benefits from a European equivalent of the green passport. In particular, it is expected to revive tourism and thus boost the economy.
Special summit produced unity
Special EU summits have rarely produced unproblematic agreement. But this time it looked different. The states agreed that work should be done on a common digital vaccination card. This should primarily serve medical purposes. A database is to be created of those who have been vaccinated. Each individual who has received their vaccination is to receive a personal QR code. It is not yet clear to what extent the validity of the current analog vaccination card will change. Unlike the paper vaccination card, however, the digital option should ensure that not only vaccinated but also recovered persons can be better registered.
Details can be determined by countries
Naturally, the question arises as to what advantages a corresponding vaccination card will bring for the respective EU citizen. Chancellor Merkel has already commented on this:
“Everyone has pointed out today that this is not at all the issue at the moment with the low vaccination coverage of the population. But you have to prepare.”
Not only Chancellor Merkel, but also the EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen speaks of the fact that too many questions are still open both scientifically and politically. These must first be clarified before the affected persons are granted freedoms. The EU, however, leaves it up to each member state to decide whether and to what extent additional freedoms are possible with a corresponding document. The countries now have just under three months to do this. As long as the technical preparatory work for the digital vaccination passport is to continue namely.
Pressure from Austria
Meanwhile, there is already pressure from Austria to act faster on the issue of vaccination cards. Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, does not rule out the possibility of going it alone. These are probably inevitable if the EU can not agree on a uniform level. Chancellor Kurz made a statement in this regard on Twitter following the special EU summit. On the short message service, he wrote:
“I am pleased that there is a broad front of support among EU member states for the idea of a green passport. Now it’s a matter of implementing it as quickly as possible!”
Even the popular vacation destinations Greece and Cyprus obviously want to press the tube. Here it remains, however, not only with words. So it is said to have already come to entry agreements with Israel. With the solo actions during the Corona pandemic, corresponding EU member states quickly came under criticism. Above all, the issues of border controls and border closures are still causing resentment among affected EU countries. Chancellor Merkel now reiterated that Germany will do everything in its power to ensure that professional commuting is as uncomplicated as possible, as well as the free movement of goods.
General problems with vaccination strategy
However, the broad consensus on a digital vaccination card could not overshadow one thing during the videoconference – the slow progress on vaccination. Accordingly, government leaders discussed how to gain more momentum on immunization. This issue remains a priority. After all, there is no point in launching a digital vaccination card that only a vanishingly small percentage of the population can use. Here, EU Council President Michel appealed once again to adapt possible vaccination strategies. Not least because of the ever wider and faster spreading virus mutations, he said, this is urgently needed.
Black sheep in the vaccine market
Away from too slow progress in vaccination, meanwhile, a new problem is emerging. For example, EU investigators have found that fraudsters are proliferating in the covid-19 vaccine market, which has been bought dry. These are shamelessly exploiting the vaccine shortage in EU countries. The responsible mediators would have offered in the past weeks approx. 900 million doses at a price of approximately 12.7 billion euro. Among them are said to be any number of black sheep, as the EU anti-fraud agency told dpa on Thursday. In addition to the federal government itself, NRW as the most populous state had also received corresponding offers and rejected them directly. From circles of the EU Commission said:
“We call this ghost vaccines, so any more or less obscure offers, which have also probably already gone to many heads of state and government”