EU proposals for a vaccine passport could kick start tourism across the bloc from as early as June – raising hopes lockdown-weary Britons could enjoy a summer holiday on the continent.
The European Commission is suggesting a “digital green pass” that would provide proof a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, as well as test results for those not yet inoculated.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the pass “should facilitate Europeans’ lives”.
She said: “The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”
The proposed scheme raises the prospect that unvaccinated adults and children could still travel overseas if they have had a recent negative COVID-19 test.
The scheme would at first be for Europeans to travel more freely over the summer – but the executive also plans to co-operate with international organisations to ensure its system works beyond the EU.
And a senior EU source told The Sun that Britons are “always welcome” in Europe “as long as you meet all of the conditions and standards”.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said on Monday there was still “great uncertainty” around holidays on the continent – partly because the EU’s vaccination programmes were behind the UK’s.
Compared to the UK, the bloc’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines has been slow.
The draft legislation for the scheme is expected to be published on 17 March, and the scheme itself may begin as soon as June.
The UK will discuss with the EU the bloc’s proposals to create a vaccine passport in the hope of reviving international travel for the summer holidays.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Britain was working with the EU and countries around the world on the issue.
He said: “As I understand it, the EU proposal is that certification includes both whether you’ve had the vaccine and also whether you’ve recently had a test for those who can’t get vaccinated yet, which is obviously particularly important.
“Therefore it’s something that we’re working with them and others on and it matters that we get the details of this right for international travel.”
The UK government has said that once more is known about the impact of vaccines it could introduce a system to allow people who have had a jab to travel more freely internationally.
EU leaders agreed last week to work on vaccine certificates, with southern European countries including Spain and Greece pushing to unlock tourism this summer.
However, a number of nations say before that, it needs to be established that vaccinated people cannot transmit COVID-19 to others.
Some countries, such as France and Belgium, have also expressed concern that easing travel only for inoculated people would be unfair.