EU’s Digital Green Certificate will help restart tourism: Commission VP Schinas

The Digital Green Certificate the European Union (EU) plans to introduce this summer to enable safe travel within and between its member states will enable a return of international tourism, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said during his visit on Tuesday to the headquarters of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) here.

Schinas met with UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili before holding a press conference, where he explained that the Green Certificate, which he insisted “was not a certificate of vaccination,” was first discussed when Pololikashvili visited Brussels last October. The Commission presented its proposal on March 17.

International tourism declined by 74 percent due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, causing a loss of 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars in revenue, and the UNWTO’s latest figures show an 85 percent drop for the first two months of 2021. Pololikashvili and Schinas agreed that the new EU certificate could restore confidence and change the trend.

“It has three elements: proof of vaccination, a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test result or proof of being immune after having suffered from COVID …It is proof that you don’t present any risk,” commented Schinas, adding that the parameters for the certificate “will be the same” across Europe.

Schinas said he expected the 27 EU member states to agree on the proposal for the certificate and to implement it within the next two months.

“We have two dates: June 1, when summer starts, and May 17, when the United Kingdom will allow international travel to restart,” he said.

He said the EU expected to conclude reciprocal agreements with third countries as well.

“We have clearly said that the EU will recognize certificates from third countries that offer the same kind of information and confidence as we do. That is the ideal solution.”

“Europe isn’t going to return to normality on its own and we want to do so together with other countries. In Europe we are working for a global return,” he said.

Pololikashvili agreed on the need for “harmonized protocols” for all countries of the world.

The EU has been slow to start its vaccination campaign due to supply issues, but Schinas said he was “confident” that the bloc will meet its objective of having 70 percent of the population vaccinated by the summer.

“There are 55 factories producing vaccines in Europe and we will have distributed 100 million doses by the end of March and another 360 million doses by the end of June. This will enable us to administer the first vaccine dose to everyone,” he said.

“I have no doubt this summer will be much better than the last one was. We will meet our vaccination goals, we will know more about the virus and we will have more protocols.

“Tourism isn’t just about relaxation, it is a key factor in our everyday life,” Schinas said.