EU leaders convened via videoconference Thursday to address the bloc’s lagging vaccination rollout and other pandemic-related concerns including the issue of vaccination passports.
The main issue the union of 27 countries faces is whether to ease current travel restrictions, especially given that the bloc is one of the hardest hit areas in the world.
“The epidemiological situation remains serious, and the new variants pose additional challenges,” European leaders will reportedly say, according to a draft of the summit statement viewed by Frequent Business Traveler. “We must therefore uphold tight restrictions while stepping up efforts to accelerate the provision of vaccines,” the statement concludes.
In addition, national leaders are expected to vigorously debate the issue of vaccine passports.
Austrian Bundeskanzler Sebastian Kurz has enthusiastically backed the idea and said, in an interview with the Bild newspaper’s television channel that vaccine passports would allow travel in Europe to restart and could help “secure and protect” the struggling hospitality sector, which includes restaurants and hotels, as well as the arts.
He supports a system similar to Israel’s recently introduced Green Pass.
“Those who are vaccinated should have full freedom, but so should those who just had corona and are immune, and all those who take a test and can prove through the test that they are negative,” Kurz said in the interview.
Countries in the south of Europe, such as Greece and Spain, whose economies depend greatly on tourism, are in favor of the move but others remain unconvinced.
German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel wants scientific proof that vaccinated individuals are no longer infectious before she would support the vaccine passport concept, she said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She also doesn’t want to treat the group vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals differently when the number of those who have been inoculated is significantly smaller than those who haven not yet been.
“The state should not treat the two groups differently,” she said.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)