Greece will use its own idea to issue certificates on passports showing travelers are free of COVID-19 – with proof of vaccinations or negative tests – as it opens to tourists while the European Union is still quibbling about what to do.
The typical waffling by the EU, which requires unanimous consensus among its 27 member states, means there likely won’t be a bloc-wide COVID-19 pass for the summer until deep into the summer, too late for many countries to get visitors.
The EU said Greece can go ahead with the scheme that was first recommended by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis months earlier, but the EU stands pat and indecisive about how to proceed, delaying economic recovery.
The official, not named, said EU countries were divided into three groups based on how technically ready they are to issue certificates, while trials are expected to begin in the second week of May, said Greece’s state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA).
Apart from Greece, countries belonging to the first group include Spain, Italy, Malta, Bulgaria, Estonia, and Luxembourg. Cyprus is in the second group and will carry out tests a little later, still in lockdown for now.
The green digital certificate will be technically ready on June 1 and will operate fully on June 30, the official said, far past the date when many international travelers make their summer plans, another blow for economies.
EU lawmakers said the certificates should allow summer travel but that’s at odds with the European Commission that still can’t make up its mind about how to proceed under President Ursula von der Leyen.
EU legislators said in their negotiating position on the European Commission’s proposal that EU governments shouldn’t impose quarantines, tests, or self-isolation measures on certificate holders.
The EU’s executive arm proposed last month that the certificates would be delivered to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated and those who tested negative for the virus or have proof they recovered from it.
The European Commission’s goal is to boost travel from one member state to another during the pandemic. But since border control is a competence of member states, each of the 27 EU countries will remain entitled to add extra requirements for entry.