Tourists waited for their luggage at the international airport in Heraklion, the capital of Crete, Greece, on 14 May 2021. (Louisa Gouliamaki – AFP/Lehtikuva)

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THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT and European Council have struck an agreement on a coronavirus travel pass that could enable the continent to re-open the tourism industry in the summer, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

“White smoke: we have a deal on the commission’s proposal on the EU Digital Covid Certificate,” Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, announced on Twitter on Thursday.

The provisional agreement indicates that the citizens of all 27 member states will receive a certificate in digital or paper format attesting that the holder has been vaccinated against the new coronavirus, recently tested negative for the coronavirus or recently recovered from the coronavirus disease, Covid-19.

The European Parliament on Thursday underlined that the certificate will not be a requirement for exercising the right to free movement and will not be considered a travel document.

The certificate will be provided to citizens for free and will contain the necessary information in the official language of the issuing member state and in English. The data security of the certificate will be safeguarded by prescribing that personal data obtained from the certificate cannot be stored in the destination country and that there shall be no central database at the EU level.

To make sure it functions as intended across the bloc, the certificate will initially be piloted in France, Malta and the Netherlands, according to AFP.

The European Parliament added that member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). They should also refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions, such as quarantines, self-isolation or testing, in response to the coronavirus epidemic unless they are “necessary and proportionate” from a public-health viewpoint.

The regulation on the certificate should be in place for 12 months.

The European Parliament said the goal of the certificate is to facilitate travel initially within the 27-country. The European Union will later seek to find an agreement on similar certificates also with other countries.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, described the agreement as a major step toward guaranteeing free and easy movement between different parts of Europe.

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee revealed the commission has pledged “at least 100 million euros” in emergency funding for testing to proceed toward the launch of the certificates. Tests, it pointed out, should be accessible and affordable.

The Civil Liberties Committee will vote on the provisional agreement on 26 May. If approved, the agreement will be presented for adoption during the plenary session scheduled for 7–10 June.

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