Canada Association of Tourism Employees

European Vaccination Certificates to Be Launched Quickly

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed a digital certificate last week to reactivate travel between European countries this summer in order to save tourism in its most important season. “We want to help the member states to reliably restore freedom of travel,” said Von der Leyen from Brussels.

The European vaccination certificate is only stored digitally and on the phone. The QR code of the certificate is scanned at airports as soon as the European Parliament and the Member States have given their approval. The countries that are most interested in the early implementation of the certificate are the most dependent on tourism, such as Spain, Greece and Italy. Meanwhile, France and Belgium have taken a different stance and raised a number of ethical and legislative implications that this proposal implies.

The usefulness of the EU certificate applies only to travel between countries in order to safely resume travel. However, experts point out the risk of stepping into this fallacy on the slippery slope and the doors that could open to discrimination.

“What can keep someone from rejecting you at an interview if you haven’t been vaccinated once the European Certificate of Vaccination is in place?” says economist Tomás Domingo Moratalla, professor of philosophy at UNED and member of the Scientific Commission of the Basic and Clinical Bioethics Association.

“We’re not saying this will be the absolute standard, but it is already one. We may think that it is not that important and we can control it, but if, for example, they are holding a congress and choosing between two speakers, they may choose the one who is already vaccinated, ”says Professor Moratalla.

One of the countries that has already started separating is Iceland. European tourists are sorted according to whether they can demonstrate their full vaccination with one of the three solutions approved by the European Medicines Agency. The country opened its doors to American or British citizens who were vaccinated last week.

Israel’s green passport

Israel has already introduced the “Green Pass”, a pass that allows people to go to concerts, cinemas, travel or take part in recreational activities. Implementation occurs after vaccinating a large number of citizens for whom most doses are available, and the only obstacle is to convince those who do not get vaccinated.

“All doors open with the Green Pass. You can go to restaurants, work out in gyms, or go to a show … how can you get it? By getting the vaccine today, ”reads the text of the latest campaign in Israel. Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Health, put it another way: “Those who do not want to be vaccinated and those who have not already been left behind will be left behind.”

In Israel, the Green Passport and its attractive benefits – which basically resume everyday life as we knew it – was presented by the authorities as a reward for those who get vaccinated as soon as possible. “But when doses are not available and vaccination is not possible, it cannot be called a reward. It is not a reward, it is discrimination, ”emphasizes Professor Moratalla.


A scientific mistake

The problem is not only ethical but also scientific. As with those who develop immunity after taking COVID-19, science still can’t clarify how long the vaccines will protect us, what antibodies will emerge after we recover from the virus, and more importantly, whether those who do vaccinated, even though they have never been infected with the virus, are able to silently pass it on to others.

If there is no guarantee that a vaccinated person cannot pass the virus on to anyone else, the validity of the European Commission’s Safe Travel Digital Certificate would be pointless and make their destination a mere mistake, given the safety they provide promote expected, would not exist.

The professor of philosophy at the National Distance Education University (UNED) is not against the European vaccination certificate, but only if it is added as a further measure and its context is clarified: “You have to say how it is: you get the vaccine with these Properties and that protection, but that doesn’t mean you are completely immune. “

Professor Moratalla also warns of the danger of naming it. The use of the word “passport” can create a positive social image associated with travel and a normal life, putting mankind once again at risk of continuing to coexist with the pandemic, as it has been up to now. “The economy should not be stimulated at any cost, with new possible outbreaks and health policy violations, assuming that there is no other solution to the pandemic. We can’t just choose the value of travel and economy, ”said Moratalla.

Professor Moratalla continues to reflect on the social nature of the vaccine, where the approach must necessarily be global to be effective: “What I would expect at European level is that they take into account and carefully the level of justice and health for all Think about the general and not this bad approach that allows discrimination when the vaccinated have rights that those who are not cannot. “

Economic and legal discrimination

The certificate is also supported by the six main industrial employers in the European aviation sector – A4E (Airlines for Europe), ACI Europe (International Council of European Airports), ASD (Association of the European Aerospace and Defense Industries), CANSO, ERA ( European Regions Airline Association) and IATA (International Air Transport Association). They see the European vaccination certificate as an important instrument to enable a safe and efficient resumption of travel and tourism in Europe.

Even if only access to travel in the EU is taken into account, the certificate issued by Brussels already implies effective and economic discrimination. Excursions may only be made by vaccinated people (in connection with vaccine shortages and not universal access) or by people who can afford PCR tests required at the borders.

While the ethical problem worries the UK and French authorities who refuse to agree to a scenario of discrimination against people’s fundamental rights, in Spain social support for a vaccination certificate is overwhelming. A recent survey by the market research company Appinio carried out in several European countries shows this 62% of Spanish citizens are in favor of this document, compared with 45% of Germans and 32% of French.

“You sold this idea to us for good reason, as our economy depends on it [passport] and our lives too, ”explains the UNED professor. The cultural and sociological differences between the Spaniards and the Germans (the low dependence on tourism) or the French (who fought for human rights in the past) help to understand this unequal support.

So what does it cost to stimulate the economies that are most dependent on travel and tourism? Experts believe that we shouldn’t leave values ​​like justice, freedom and, most importantly, human rights behind, saying that we may not be in the moral position we were in.

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