Greece, Cyprus, Denmark and Sweden promote the certificate on their own to reactivate tourism in the face of the blockade in the European Union.
Despite being one of the countries most dependent on the tourism sector, Spain is lagging behind in the implementation of a Covid-19 vaccination passport that allows mobility to be recovered without PCR tests or quarantines. While the Government of Pedro Sanchez awaiting a consensus in the European Union that right now seems impossible, other countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Denmark or Sweden have decided to move forward on their own in order to open tourist corridors for the summer season, or even before.
The EU Heads of State and Government will discuss the Covid-19 vaccination passport again during the video summit next Thursday, February 25, but no agreement is expected. “It will be a repetition of already known postures“, predicts a senior European diplomat. The Twenty-Seven remain deeply divided on this initiative.
For Spain, Italy, Portugal or Greece it is an essential tool to facilitate travel, resuscitate the tourism sector and thus underpin the economic recovery. However, the great powers of the EU, Germany and France declare themselves “very reticent”. They allege that it is not yet known whether those vaccinated can continue to spread the virus and above all that there is a risk of discrimination, especially serious in the current phase of vaccine shortage. The Netherlands, Belgium or Luxembourg are also opposed.
The EU countries have already taken the first step to create a common certificate of vaccination, but this document will have an exclusively medical use for now. “It shows that you have been vaccinated, but it cannot be connected with special rights until the possibility of being vaccinated is guaranteed for all citizens. You cannot discriminate giving special rights to the vaccinated until there are no vaccines available for all”, says the Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni.
Greece negotiates with Israel and London
Faced with the blockade in Brussels, the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the first to raise the debate, has decided to act on his own. On February 8, Mitsotakis traveled to Jerusalem to sign an agreement on the vaccination passport with the Israeli prime ministerBenjamin Netanyahu. A pact that in practice creates a tourist corridor between the two countries, which will be activated from April 1.
It’s about being able to travel “without any limitations, without quarantines, nothing,” Netanyahu said. “I hope that what we are going to do with Israel is a pilot project of what we can do with other countriesMitsotakis noted. On Valentine’s Day, the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, also flew to Israel and sealed the same agreement on the vaccination passport.
In addition, the Greek Tourism Minister, Haris Theoharis, revealed on Thursday that he is negotiating a similar tourist corridor with the United Kingdom. “We do not want to limit travel only to those who have been vaccinated“Theoharis told BBC Radio. What it is about is exempting people with a vaccination certificate from the obligation to undergo a PCR test before boarding, he alleges.
Apart from Greece and Cyprus, the Nordic countries have also decided to implement a digital vaccination passport now, without waiting for what the EU decides. The first to do so was Iceland, which does not belong to the Union but is in the Schengen area: at the end of January it began issuing digital documents that it hopes will serve to facilitate international travel.
Too Denmark has announced its own digital vaccination certificate, with the aim that it be used not only for travel, but also also to access major sporting events or massive concerts. “It is absolutely crucial for us to restart Danish society, so that businesses can return to normal,” says its finance minister, Morten Bodskov.. Sweden intends to follow the same model.
Sánchez does not rule out bilateral agreements
The government of Pedro Sanchez He does not rule out following in the footsteps of these countries, but for now he is committed to reaching an agreement within the EU and also the OECD. “We have taken all the necessary steps as a country to be able to both issue and accept those vaccination certificates when the time comes, if necessary,” explain sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Right now, our emphasis is on reaching broad and multilateral agreements in the EU and the OECD, with many parts, on the use that should be given to these certificates. In these negotiations, we have the support and collaboration of Israel, Denmark, Sweden or Iceland, of all the countries that have been more open to using these certificates”, continue the sources consulted.
“But no we absolutely rule out the possibility of exploring similar agreements to which Greece has reached with third countries. What happens is that at the moment the debate is very green ”, they assure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The big question now is whether the multilateral or bilateral agreements to establish tourist corridors with the vaccination passport will arrive on time or the tourist season will be lost for the second consecutive year.