After four sessions of negotiations, the European Parliament and 27 countries reached a compromise. The European Health Certificate, which should facilitate travel within the European Union despite the pandemic, should be enforceable before the end of June. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the certificate will be “a key element on the road to the resumption of safe and easy travel through the European Union.”
Necessary to resume tourism as summer approaches, the European Health Certificate must ensure that its holder does not risk spreading the epidemic. To show a white foot, they must either be vaccinated against Covid, pass a negative PCR test less than 72 hours before, or benefit from immunity after a recent infection with the virus.
“Affordable and accessible” polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests
After it was widely adopted by the European Parliament at the end of April, the final text was discussed in Brussels in a “trilogy” between Parliament, the Commission and the European Council.
During the negotiations, the Council and the European Parliament in particular opposed the cost of the examination. While members of the European Parliament demanded free PCR tests in all member countries, some countries were hesitant about the cost this procedure represented to their public finances. In order to find a compromise, the text specifies that screening tests should be “affordable and accessible”.
A procedure that is considered “important” by Romanian European Parliament member and president of the Renew Europe Group, Dacien Sullus, for Europeans who are still awaiting vaccination in the coming weeks and months and who should also be able to travel. The European Commission is also committed to mobilizing € 100 million to purchase tests using European funding. If required, an additional 100 million euros can be mobilized again.
Quarantine periods remain possible
Another topic for discussion: restrictive measures imposed on health certificate holders upon arrival in a country, such as a period of quarantine. The European Parliament wanted to make these restrictions impossible. For their part, the 27 stressed that it is a national competency.
On this point, the settlement that was found was not fully settled. The agreement stipulates that states must refrain, to the maximum extent possible, from imposing restrictions on health certificate holders. But member states remain sovereign in managing their borders and are free to apply it or not if the question arises, for example if an alternative emerges.
The health card has been included in the list of the leaders summit scheduled to be held next Monday and Tuesday in Brussels. The agreement will have to be approved by Parliament, whose next plenary session is scheduled to take place from 7-10 June in Strasbourg.