The European Parliament and European Commission have reached agreement on an EU-wide coronavirus travel permit which, officials say, will come into effect from June 21 if approved.
The parliament and a majority of Dutch MPs had called for free coronavirus tests for people who had not yet been vaccinated, something which the commission said should be up to individual member states.
In a compromise agreement, Brussels and EU government leaders have now agreed to establish a €100m fund to pay for PCR tests. In addition, EU countries will be free to require additional testing or require travellers to go into quarantine if they feel it necessary to safeguard public health.
The aim of the agreement is ‘to facilitate the right to free movement during pandemic and contribute to gradually lifting restrictions’. In addition it states that tests should be ‘affordable and accessible’.
The fund to make testing more affordable should ‘particularly benefit persons who cross borders daily or frequently to go to work or school, visit close relatives, seek medical care, or to take care of loved ones,’ the agreement said.
🎉There it is: a single EU Covid certificate to enable free and safe travel in Europe. With €100 mio (or more when necessary) tests will be purchased. @europarl_en was more ambitious, but this is tangible progress for citizens 🇪🇺
— Sophie in ‘t Veld (@SophieintVeld) May 20, 2021
A certificate will be available in either digital or paper format and will state that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, has a recent negative test result or has recovered from the infection.
‘While the agreement reached today does not fully meet the EP’s demands, it certainly signifies a major improvement to the current status quo for millions of EU citizens,’ civil liberties committee chairman Juan Fernando López Aguilar said. ‘This agreement is the first step to get the Schengen area back on track.’
Dutch MPs on Thursday also voted in favour of paying for coronavirus tests for holiday makers, saying it is not fair to expect younger people to pay for an expensive private test to go on holiday, simply because they are not yet eligible for a vaccine.
Commercial test centres in the Netherlands charge around €85 for a PCR test.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge said earlier he did not think taxpayers should pick up the bill. However, prime minister Mark Rutte pledged to come back to parliament with a plan in two weeks’ time.
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