The European Parliament has, on Wednesday, voted to adopt the EU Digital COVID Certificate for international travel, laying the groundwork for the resumption of free movement within the bloc.
The package, which still needs to be approved by the European Council, would see EU travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 be able to use locally issued EU vaccine certificates to enter other EU countries from 1st July.
Certificates will be issued free of charge by relevant national authorities in the form of either a digital or paper document featuring a QR code.
MEPs also agreed that EU states would not be able to impose additional travel restrictions on certificate holders, “unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health”.
Notably, it was additionally highlighted that the vaccine certificates should be effective for an initial period of 12 months, in a divergence from Malta’s earlier legal notice stating that vaccine certificates would be valid for six months.
The measure, which passed with a significant majority of 546 votes to 93, with 51 abstentions, was welcomed by the European Commission, amongst others.
Plans for the Digital Green Certificates were first announced in March, as the tool by which the EU hoped to get international travel restarted again, by allowing users to skip pandemic-related travel restrictions, such as testing and self-isolation.
All EU countries will be required to accept certificates issued by other member states for vaccines authorised by the European Medicine Agency.
It comes as Malta’s reopening to international travel has stuttered under the strain of an inefficient travel document verification process.
On Tuesday, Malta International Airport called for the introduction of “digital validation solutions” to verify passenger health forms, saying that it would “allow for quicker access to passenger data should contact tracing be required as well as continue to a more seamless guest experience on arrival in Malta”.
The week before, images circulated online showing a packed airport filled with travellers waiting to get their passenger locator form and health documents verified.
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