Portuguese minister: Vaccination certificate to abolish testing at EU borders

The issue will be discussed at a teleconference of EU leaders later today but some countries have already expressed their concerns. [Shutterstock/Cryptographer]

A vaccination certificate currently under discussion in the EU should act as proof of safety and lift certain requirements at the EU’s internal borders, Portugal’s Minister of the Interior Eduardo Cabrita has said.

At a meeting with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, Cabrita accepted as “a new challenge” the link with free movement within the Schengen area of this type of certificate, “which should act as proof of security and do away with certain requirements at borders – in particular, the requirement for PCR tests”.

He said restrictions on movement within the Schengen area “should be limited to very specific situations and with mutual agreement between countries”, citing as an example the closure and subsequent reopening of the land border between Portugal and Spain between March and June.

The proposal for a vaccination certificate was recently tabled by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to facilitate travel across the EU.

The issue will be discussed at a teleconference of EU leaders later today but some countries have already expressed their concerns.

Paris said it was still too early to have such a discussion. “Until we have entered a phase of vaccination for the general public, telling people their activity is limited while access to vaccines is not generalised doesn’t work,” Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said recently.

Breton: Jab certificates not enough to ensure free movement

COVID-19 vaccination certificates are “important but not sufficient” to ensure the resumption of free movement within the EU during the pandemic, EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said on Tuesday (19 January), adding instead that rapid tests should also be introduced.

For its part, Bucharest described the proposal as divisive. “I do not think it is a good idea. There must be a vaccination certificate, but it must be used for medical reasons, not for travel,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said.

Many fear that a vaccination certificate will indirectly make vaccination compulsory resulting in enhancing anti-vaccination movements, whose presence in some countries is strong.

In an op-ed published on EURACTIV on Thursday (21 January), the Greek prime minister insisted that such a certificate is needed.

“Through the EU wide introduction of an agreed and standardised digital vaccine certificate template we can quickly open up again, reviving tourism and recreation, and allowing our citizens to move freely and without restrictions from country to country. I will be advocating for such an arrangement at this week’s European Council meeting,” Mitsotakis wrote.

Mitsotakis: To get Europe moving again we must act now on vaccination certificates

The curtailment of our freedom and prosperity during this dreadful pandemic has been historically unprecedented and painful. COVID has brought grief and isolation and has impacted not just our health, but our livelihoods, our prospects, and our societal norms, writes Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos]

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