Greece Urges EU to ‘Move Faster’, Adopt ‘Health Passport’ Idea
Greece is once again urging the EU to take swifter action with measures that will allow safe travel, calling on member states to agree and adopt the idea of Covid-19 vaccination certificates.
In an interview to the Financial Times ahead of Thursday’s EU summit to examine the issue again, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said some European countries were displaying “short sightedness” with regard to what needs to be done and how fast in order to restart non-essential safe travel.
“Looking at the reaction of some countries to vaccination certificate proposals, I feel there’s a lot of short sightedness. There’s more to be done now to prepare ourselves,” Theoharis told the Financial Times.
The Greek tourism minister referred to northern European countries, which he said are “unwilling to look ahead and plan for an economic recovery in the summer. We need to move more quickly”.
Theoharis underlined that it was critical EU leaders “move more quickly” and embrace the vaccine certificate idea, which was tabled a month ago by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis has repeatedly explained that the vaccination certificate will be used only to enable travel and only for an initial transition period in order to get economies going. After that, he said, member states can re-assess.
Theoharis added that reaching an EU-wide agreement on a mutually accepted framework for non-essential travel would go a long way toward creating confidence among potential travelers to plan for their summer holidays.
Echoing the WTTC, the minister also expressed his disappointment with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recovery roadmap presented on Monday, which leaves return to international travel last after May 17.
“I don’t understand this kind of messaging. People from the UK were able to have a vacation . . . I don’t see how we can take one step back now that we have more tools in our arsenal,” Theoharis told the Financial Times.
Lastly, referring to Greece’s deal this month with Israel that allows vaccinated travelers to move restriction-free between the two countries with the use of the so-called “green pass”, Theoharis said the country was currently in talks for similar bilateral arrangements with other nations.
Editor’s note: Greece’s plan of people using vaccination certificates when traveling aims for them to be able to move freely within European countries and without restrictions (such as being obliged to undergo Covid-19 testing). Greek authorities have highlighted on many occasions that a vaccination certificate would not be an exclusive prerequisite for travel to Greece. When the time comes and the country begins accepting vaccination certificates from travelers, those who are unvaccinated can enter Greece but will be obliged to present a negative PCR test (and may have to undergo quarantine depending on rules that may be in force at the time).