Complete collapse of the system in Europe - Brussels acknowledged the oversights
European Commission is in trouble.Source: Jutarnji list
Until now, European Commission boasted that she helped ensure freedom of movement in the EU during the pandemic, especially through the plan to open Europe, and now finds herself in a situation where legal interpretations can no longer provide answers to specific real-life situations travelers find themselves in, from one member to another.
The differences from country to country regarding the use of COVID certificates have become so different that a real nightmare has arisen.
Some states require such certificates for children over the age of six, others no longer recognize evidence of a negative test, and some require a third booster dose.
Austria, meanwhile, has introduced mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 for those over 18. And some member states disrupted the measures. These differences have led to EU citizens no longer knowing how and where they can travel and under what conditions.
In France, COVID certificates are now actually being converted into vaccination certificates. So it is no longer enough to contain data on a fresh negative PCR test, as it has been so far.
EC without solution
The European Commission has no answers to all these questions, except for the repetition of the interpretation of the law and the very meaning of the introduction of COVID certificates, which was the idea of the European Commission.
"The European COVID-19 certificate is intended for the possibility of traveling within the EU, i.e. from country to country, and when someone is within a certain country, then he must respect the rules adopted by its authorities," said European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer, reiterating that measures in the states are the national authority of the governments there.
Asked what such certificates are for now if different countries ask for different criteria for their use, a spokesman for the European Commission said that EU certificates are just a "technical solution", i.e. the introduction of a document that "only proves a person's health status - vaccination, illness or PCR test", and it is up to the authorities of each state to decide what rights or restrictions apply to people with that status.
The measures that France has now introduced mean that people who have not been vaccinated cannot travel by train from Brussels to Paris. Thus, for the French authorities, they no longer recognize the alternative criteria introduced in the COVID certificates (vaccination, illness or negative PCR test), but self-vaccination.
"How does the Commission answer a Belgian citizen when asked if he can travel to France with a COVID certificate if he has not been vaccinated," was one of the questions.
"It is up to the French authorities to decide who will be allowed to move and who will not within their borders. Unfortunately, I cannot say to the member states that they must all react in the same way. Unfortunately, we do not have that power as the European Commission", a spokesman for the European Commission said.
Italy as an example
Italy presents a perfect example of how national measures create confusion for citizens who travel on vacation or on business trips.
Italy has now limited the validity of the COVID certificate from nine to six months after vaccination, and is now seeking a third dose of the vaccine as a condition for recognizing COVID certificates for entry into buses, restaurants, hotels or museums.
A possible consequence, for example, is that a Belgian or Dutch family traveling to Italy cannot enter a hotel because their minor child does not have a booster dose, because they are not yet given to children under 18 in Belgium. Or it wasn't their turn.
The Commission reiterates its call on the Member States to coordinate and harmonize the use of COVID certificates within their borders, in order to avoid undesirable complications for citizens. And the citizens are invited to check before each trip what measures are in force.
This is becoming increasingly difficult for the citizens, and the European Commission cannot follow up on everything so quickly.
The biggest problem that prevents harmonization is the big difference from country to country in vaccination. For example, in some western EU countries a higher percentage of citizens received the third dose than in Bulgaria or Croatia the first dose.