Brussels wants coronareispas, but what you can really do with it is still the question

There will be a travel pass that allows you to travel freely through EU countries, without restrictions such as quarantine. At least that is what the European Parliament wants. A large majority of parliamentarians will probably agree to plans for this coronac certificate tomorrow.

But how much freedoms this certificate will give is unclear. Travellers will still have to deal with a patchwork of rules this summer in Europe, it is feared.

That‘s how it works

First of all, how would such a pass work? The aim is to allow border officials to check whether you have already been vaccinated, have recently undergone a negative test or have already had corona. In those three cases, you are unlikely to be contagious and do not pose a risk to the country you visit.

A fairly simple system and also the technique behind it doesn’t have to be complicated, says privacy expert Rob van Eijk. โ€œYour information comes in a digital document with a digital stamp of authenticity.โ€ Your data is only on your certificate and is not centrally stored.

By scanning the qr code, on paper or on your phone, a clerk can read out if you are ‘green’. Van Eijk: โ€œIf you fly, that check is already done at customs in the Netherlands. The intention is that the country you are travelling to trust that the test has gone right.โ€ You can then enter that country without first going into quarantine or doing an additional test.

Differences between countries

At least, that‘s the idea. Because countries are far from agreeing on this. There is still no agreement on what passengers with a European Green Pass will be able to do more than those without them.

Travellers are awaiting unclear rules, fears Frank Oostdam, director of travel industry organisation ANVR. โ€œThe European Parliament and the European Commission agree: we need a digital passport. These are the good sounds, but in the end, national states give their own meaning. Southern countries, with greater importance of tourism, are likely to be more accessible than northern European countries, as the latter are less dependent on tourism and may ask questions about privacy.โ€

It may therefore be that if you have a green certificate, you will not have to be quarantined in Italy, while the certificate does not provide additional freedoms in Denmark. Perhaps some Member States do not accept the certificate at all as an entry ticket to the country.

Some countries, including the Netherlands, want countries to be able to determine the status of a travel pass. In certain countries, you would still have to be quarantined with a certificate if you haven’t had a vaccine yet. In Lithuania, thanks to the vaccination pass, guests will soon be able to dine indoors in restaurants. Now, with the passport still in the making, only the terraces are still open there. Perhaps some Member States do not accept a green pass at all as an entry ticket to the country.

Oostdam: โ€œEuropean harmonisation is far too few. I fear we will find ourselves in the same situation as last summer: countries with all kinds of different measures.โ€

In a car you just drive

It is also still unknown how strict countries will maintain. Scanning QR codes before passengers embark on an airplane may be a good thing, but countries do not seem to plan to stop and control motorists at the border on a massive scale.

And it is still unclear how, for example, the Dutch Coronacheck app will relate to the European system. The European certificates may become part of the national apps.

In

any case, the European Parliament wants to prevent EU countries from continuing to decide on the conditions under which people enter their country. Member States still have some time to reach joint agreements. It will be negotiated by the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council in the near future. At the end of May, the final plan should be adopted and implemented.