An EU-wide travel system was launched on Thursday, allowing European citizens to resume travel across the bloc without quarantine in a move designed to help boost tourism over the summer.
The EU’s “digital green certificate” will allow Europeans who have proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test, or proof of recovery from the virus, to travel to other member states. The app-based certificate gives travellers a QR code to allow them to avoid quarantine in other member states.
The certificate was agreed by EU governments and MEPs in May and was introduced after pressure from southern economies which are reliant on tourism and in desperate need of summer visitors.
The system, which is now rolled out in all 27 member states, was already being trialled by many countries before the launch. More than 200m certificates have now been downloaded, according to the European Commission.
Brussels has been under pressure to come up with a system of co-ordinated travel to prevent member states from imposing their own rules. The airline and travel industry has also demanded the rollout of technology to facilitate safe travel for vaccinated and non-vaccinated citizens.
“The European Digital Certificate is a symbol of an open and safe Europe that is opening cautiously putting the protection of the health of our citizens first,” said commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
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Citizens from outside the EU can enter the bloc if they have been fully vaccinated with a jab recognised by the European Medicines Agency. Member states can also choose to allow travellers who have received other jabs that have been given emergency approval by the World Health Organization.
“At the moment a lot of paperwork is needed in order to travel back and forth to Greece,” said Isidora Chandeli, manager of Verina boutique hotels on the island of Sifnos. “The European passport will make the process a lot easier.”