Leaders from the European Union’s 27-member states came together for a virtual summit on Thursday to discuss the idea of vaccine certificates and approaches to speeding up the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking at a press conference alongside European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that 8% of the bloc’s adult population had already been vaccinated.
The European Commission has sealed deals with several companies for well over 2 billion vaccine shots, but only three have been authorised: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Officials say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be approved next month.
“We are determined to continue to work together and coordinate our action to tackle the pandemic and its consequences. The epidemiological situation remains serious, and the new variants pose additional challenges,” the leaders of EU countries said in a joint statement.
During the summit, the EU leaders also moved closer to an agreement on ‘vaccine certificates’, which could ease air travel.
Greece, Spain and Italy support the system, however northern EU partners, like Germany, doubt whether the certificates would work.
“We also discussed vaccination certificates. We agreed to continue our work on a common approach. More work needs to be done – on digitalisation and on cooperation with the World Health Organisation. But tonight we felt more and more convergence among us on this important topic. The European Council will revert to this matter,” President Charles Michel said.
On his part, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis clarified that the certificate will not be equivalent to a health passport, but instead will open a fast lane for travel, without the restrictions caused by rapid tests and mandatory quarantine.
*More on GCT: Greece and Britain discuss ‘vaccine passports’
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