‘Everyone Agreed’ on Vaccine Passports, Says Merkel at EU Coronavirus Summit

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 25: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks after a virtual Euro
Christian Marquardt - Pool/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed that there is a unanimous agreement within the European Union on implementing a coronavirus vaccine passport, during a virtual meeting of EU member states on Thursday.

The German leader said that “everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate,” following the meeting of European leaders.

Merkel said that such a system could be implemented as soon as the summer, but claimed that the introduction of a vaccine passport “does not mean that only those who have a vaccination passport are allowed to travel,” according to the German broadcaster DW.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Israel’s implementation of ‘Green Passes’, a system in which the government tracks and documents an individual’s vaccination history in order to facilitate travel or to attend synagogues, theatres, concerts, or to go to the gym.

While there has so far been no agreement within the EU as far as a standardised system, von der Leyen said that the Commission is working to craft a “gateway for interoperability between nations.”

The embattled EU president did note that member states will “have to act fast” in order to implement a vaccine passport before the summer. To date, the European Union has only inoculated eight per cent of its population, compared to nearly 30 per cent in Brexit Britain.

The failure to vaccinate a significant portion of the population has led to concerns that vaccine passports would be discriminatory. Angela Merkel admitted as much this week, saying: “As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

Southern EU member states, such as Spain, Italy, and Greece have been pushing for the adoption of a COVID pass, in order to facilitate travel and prop up their fledgeling tourism industries. For countries like Greece in particular, tourism is a major part of their domestic economies and the Corona lockdowns have been devastating.

Other countries, such as France, have expressed concerns about discrimination as well as the lack of evidence over whether vaccinated people can still transmit the Wuhan virus.

Greek Deputy Prime Minister Akis Skertsos said that a vaccine passport system is “not discriminatory at all,” claiming that unvaccinated people could still visit Greece, but would face tougher restrictions such as being forced to be tested and self-isolate upon arrival.

Greece, which has already signed an agreement with Israel to open up travel for those with ‘Green Passes’, is reportedly in talks with the UK to sign a similar agreement.

There is a growing push within Britain’s notionally conservative government for the adoption of a vaccine passport, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggesting earlier this week that Brits might be required to carry health passes to even do make simple domestic visits like going to the pub or the theatre.

“I know the fervent libertarians will object but other people will think that there is case for it,” Johnson said, going on to say that many countries will make vaccine passports a requirement.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson backed up the plan to carry passports to go to restaurants, cinemas, and theatres, telling LBC Radio on Wendesday: “I think I would probably do pretty much sort of anything to be able to enjoy all those lovely things.’

“I think the idea of going to a restaurant with your family or going to the theatre is something we all really want to see,” Williamson added.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove will be heading up the government’s research into adopting a vaccine passport system, despite definitively stating in December that Brits would not be required to provide proof of vaccination to go to the pub.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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