by Donald Wood
Last updated: 4:00 PM ET, Fri April 30, 2021
Government officials in Europe approved the creation of a European Union-wide COVID-19 certification program to help restart international tourism, but there are still issues to work out.
According to Reuters.com, negotiations between EU lawmakers, member states and the executive commission are developing a coronavirus certificate to verify travelers received a complete vaccination or tested negative.
While participation in the program would ensure the ability to travel across the 27-nation bloc, the different vaccination and testing protocols in each member state have made the process more complicated.
European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the "EU COVID-19 certificate" and said "member states should not impose additional travel restrictions on those carrying such passes and that they should make free testing widely available."
As part of the proposal, the European Commission said countries should be able to retain extra requirements. Countries in the EU are already introducing their own vaccination record-keeping systems, which officials said would be permitted to continue using even when the EU COVID-19 certificate is in place.
"The certificate is not about allowing or forbidding travel. It has nothing to do with that," Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told Reuters. "It's a system of information on your health status in relation to COVID. Member states have the prerogatives, the responsibility when it comes to health safety measures (required for entry); the green digital certificate does not change this."
The certification program would require member states to welcome travelers who received vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, but would allow each country to decide how to handle tourists treated by Russian or Chinese vaccines.
Issues and concerns raised by diplomats include the types of COVID-19 tests accepted, privacy issues and the possibility of discrimination against those who have not received a vaccination.
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