Aviation, travel and tourism groups have welcomed a vote by the European Parliament to accept proposals for an EU Covid-19 certificate.
The vote by MEPs means talks with the European Commission and Council of Europe on implementing the certificates can proceed.
However, MEPs agreed a change of name from the Digital Green Certificate proposed by the EU to an ‘EU Covid-19 Certificate’.
They agreed the certificates, in digital or paper format, “should be in place for 12 months and no longer” and should attest that a person has been vaccinated, had a recent negative test or has recovered from Covid-19 infection.
The MEPs urged member states to remove quarantine or Covid-19 test requirements for certificate holders but also resolved that “EU Covid-19 certificates are not travel documents”.
The legislative proposal was approved by 540 votes to 119, with MEPs agreeing the certificates “will neither serve as a travel document nor become a precondition to exercise the right to free movement”.
Aviation and travel industry groups called for the “swift alignment” of EU institutions, describing “a clear, simple and harmonised European approach” as “critical”.
Iata, Airlines for Europe (A4E), airports association ACI Europe, cruise association Clia Europe, the European Travel Commission (ETC), European travel agents’ and tour operators’ association ECTAA, European travel association ETOA and hotel and restaurant association HOTREC were among organisations demanding the certificates be operational by June.
They also called for “reciprocity with non-EU systems”.
In a statement, Iata and the other organisations noted: “The proposed amendments send a strong political message on the urgency to restore free movement in the EU.”
They urged “swift negotiations and agreement by mid-May so that pilot testing and full implementation can take place in June”.
The European Parliament also voted for free testing, noting tests can range in cost from €10 to €150.
MEPs agreed member states should accept vaccination certificates issued in member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU.
It will be up to member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates issued by member states for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) called on the Irish government to back the certificates.
Chief executive Pat Dawson said doing so would “avoid being left behind” the other 26 EU countries as they begin to reopen their borders for travel.
He stressed: “This initiative will not work unless all member states are prepared and willing to implement the certificates in a timely manner and follow the same structure across all EU countries.”
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