EU-UK lost in translation over COVID vaccine certification

Questioned as to the logic behind the decision not to recognise the EU COVID certificate considering that health authorities from both sides have recognised the same vaccines, a spokesperson for the UK government’s department of health and social care refrained from offering a direct comment. [Shutterstock/Viacheslav Lopatin]

COVID-19 measures are set to lift in England on Monday in what is being dubbed as “freedom day”. But there is still no freedom for EU citizens hoping to travel unhindered to the country as it does not yet recognise EU COVID vaccine certificates.

As part of the loosening of restrictions in the country, from 4 am Monday there is no longer a need to quarantine for 10 days on arrival in England or take a day 8 COVID-19 test provided that travellers have been “fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme,” according to the government’s website.

However, there are no such allowances for those that have been vaccinated elsewhere,  leaving EU citizens, and British citizens living abroad, unable to freely travel between the bloc and its former member.

Asked about the latest progress on recognition of the EU digital COVID certificate, a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV that there are talks ongoing at the technical level with the UK, which are ”progressing well and going in the right direction”.

As regards reciprocity, the spokesperson said that the Commission “indeed expects this from the UK”.

“It goes without saying that also when it comes to recognising UK certificates in the EU, we would also expect the same from the UK side for EU citizens travelling to the UK,” they said.

The spokesperson added that this should be feasible given that, technically speaking, the EU’s and the UK’s architectures are aligned, and that there is goodwill on both sides to reach an agreement.

However, despite the rapidly approaching summer season, the spokesperson said there is currently “no concrete time frame” for this.

Questioned as to the logic behind the decision not to recognise the EU COVID certificate considering that health authorities from both sides have recognised the same vaccines, a spokesperson for the UK government’s department of health and social care refrained from offering a direct comment.

“Ensuring safe and open travel with our global partners is a clear priority […] We are engaging with international partners on certification to ensure travel for vaccinated people is unhindered in the future,” the department’s spokesperson said.

(Natasha Foote | EURACTIV.com)

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