On Wednesday, the European Union said it wanted all member states to be “on the same page” with regards to travel as it shared plans for its Digital Green Certificate in a press conference led by commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen, flanked by colleagues, told reporters in Brussels: “We aim to help member states reinstate the freedom of movement in a safe, responsible and trusted manner.”
“Being vaccinated will not be a precondition to travel,” Commissioner Didier Reynders said. “All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU and this applies regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. The Digital Green Certificate will make it easier to exercise that right, also through testing and recovery certificates.”
Reynders claimed that “a very high level of data protection will be ensured” adding that certificates will be issued in digital format for smartphone use and can be printed.
A statement by the commission adds: “The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates –vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.”
Von der Leyen also hit out at vaccine producer, AstraZeneca, claiming that it has “underproduced and underdelivered” while both Pfizer and Moderna have met their contract agreements. She said the EU is still waiting for doses of AstraZeneca to arrive from the UK, adding that Brussels may have to consider blocking EU exports of vaccines to Britain if things do not change.
“Where the UK’s concerned, indeed we have observed that in the last six weeks 10 million doses by now have been exported to the UK,” the European Commission president continues.
The commission president said the continent’s epidemiological situation is “getting worse” and is “worrisome,” adding, there is the “crest of a third wave forming in member states” and refers to the increasing numbers of new variants.
The EU-led vaccination program has stuttered since it was launched in late December, plagued by supply delays and slow approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Over the last week, many EU nations have chosen to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca jab while the EMA investigates a reports of blood clots.