Brussels wants vaccine passports to be operational across the EU by the end of June.
Pilot schemes will be launched at the beginning of that month, with the aim to have the whole system up and running by June 21, Didier Reynders, the European commissioner for justice, told MEPs on Tuesday.
The European Commission had wanted the so-called Digital Green Certificates to be fully operational by the end of May, with some member states more dependent on tourism, like Greece and Spain, pushing for an even earlier start.
But for now, that target has been dropped.
“It’s urgent. Of course, we want to be ready before the summer. For the end of June, we want to be ready with the regulation,” Reynders told MEPs.
Reynders also stressed that the Digital Green Certificate is not just a simple vaccination passport.
“The commission is working very hard to ensure large vaccination coverage of the European population to prevent discrimination of individuals who are not yet vaccinated,” he said.
“The proposal regulates not only the insurance verification and acceptance of an interoperable vaccination certificate but also a test certificate and certificate for a person who has recovered from COVID-19.”
But Dutch MEP Tineke Strik told Euronews that EU countries’ own national vaccine passports should be allowed EU-wide to avoid any discrimination.
“Once member states start to use perhaps these certificates also in their own countries, like for instance, for access to restaurants or other services, then they also should not discriminate between EU nationals and their own citizens,” Strik said.
Some MEPs at the meeting argued that everything should be done to make tests free or as cheap as possible and that this should be regulated at an EU level.