EU COVID-19 Certificate is crucial to revive regional tourism but it must be non-discriminatory and respect high security standards


Regions and cities unanimously back the use of a common
document to facilitate free movement in the EU during
the pandemic and boost the tourism sector’s recovery
towards new sustainable models



The plenary of the European Committee of the
Regions (CoR) approved by unanimity a resolution
promoted by all political groups which welcomes the
European Commission’s proposal to create a new
Digital Green Certificate. However, regional and
local leaders suggest that, for sake of clarity,
the document should be renamed EU COVID-19
Certificate, as put forward by the European
Parliament. They insist that it should not be a
travel document and stress the principle of
non-discrimination, in particular towards
non-vaccinated persons. Moreover, during a debate
on the tourism, hotel and catering sectors’
recovery, CoR members committed to turn the
COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity and move from
over-tourism towards new models that are safe,
sustainable, resilient and in line with the
European Green Deal’s objectives.


Through a resolution approved today by unanimity, the
CoR welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to
create a common EU

Digital Green Certificate

to facilitate unrestricted cross-border movement during
the COVID-19 pandemic and save the tourism season. The
certificate, which may be in digital or paper format,
will attest that a person has been vaccinated against
COVID-19 or, alternatively, that he has received a
recent negative test result or has recovered from the
infection. Finally, the CoR welcomes

the European Parliament’s proposal

to change its name to “EU COVID-19 Certificate”, in
order to increase the understanding of the usefulness
of the certificate, thereby facilitating the promotion
of it among citizens.


The President of the CoR

Apostolos Tzitzikostas

highlighted that “

the Digital Green Certificate is not the silver
bullet, but it will help get Europe moving again
provided it respects EU privacy and data
protection. Europe’s tourism sector will not
recover if we don’t have common European rules for
safe travel. Local and regional governments are
already feeling the impact of the loss of income
and their economies simply cannot afford to lose
another season. All levels, from EU, to national,
to regional and local, must work together to save
the tourism and hospitality sector

.”


Local and regional leaders underline that the Digital
Green Certificate should be neither a pre-condition for
the exercise of free movement rights nor a travel
document and stresses the principle of
non-discrimination, in particular towards
non-vaccinated persons. Moreover, high security
standards need to be guaranteed and the EU institutions
should clarify that the certificate would not affect
the right of cross-border workers to move freely
between their homes and places of work during the
pandemic.


CoR members reiterate their belief that vaccination is
the main way to bring the pandemic under control and to
restore free movement. Therefore, they stress the need
to guarantee equal access to vaccines and call for a
rapid increase of vaccine production in Europe.

The CoR suggests

that the European Union should explore new solutions
such as a temporary suspension of patents for medicines
and medical technologies to treat or prevent COVID-19
infections.


Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by free
movement restrictions and other precautionary measures
against the spread of the coronavirus. The sector
generates 10% of the EU GDP and represents 12% of the
EU workforce, but the COVID-19 crisis caused losses
between 85% and 90% for many economic actors like
hotels and restaurants, tour operators and transport
companies. In 2020, the number of nights spent at EU
tourist accommodation establishments totalled 1.4
billion,

down by 52% compared with 2019

. Cyprus, Greece and Malta were the most affected
countries with drops exceeding 70%.




We lost summer, autumn, winter and two springs.
Another lost season will be the end of many hotels,
cafés, boat rentals, amusement parks and holiday
attractions. We need to vaccinate, stay safe and
rediscover the joy of traveling, meeting people,
seeing places. We can overturn this crisis into an
opportunity to rediscover Europe’s amazing rural
areas. Let us all turn the page on over-tourism and
enjoy our holidays in a sustainable way

“, said

Ulrika Landergren

(SE/RE), chair of the CoR’s Commission for Natural
resources (NAT), during a separate debate on the
recovery in the tourism, hotel and catering sector.


Rita Marques
, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal, joined
the plenary discussion. She said: “

The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the
European Union is committed to promote joint
actions and policies to ensure a more sustainable,
digital and competitive restart of tourism and
travel. We have launched a dialogue on sustainable
recovery for the tourism and a guide towards a
European Agenda for Tourism 2050. In the
short-term, the Digital Green Certificate shows
that we are fully committed to guarantee harmonized
criteria that supports free movement. This is a
solid step towards the recovery of the sector.


Jens Zimmer Christensen
, President of the HOTREC Association – which
represents hotels, restaurants, cafés and similar
establishments in Europe – stated: “

The pandemic’s impact on European hospitality and
tourism has been seismic, and rebuilding will be
neither instant nor easy: re-opening is not the
same as recovery. The EU and Member States must
continue to support businesses and protect jobs
throughout the crisis and beyond. The industry
needs, amongst other things, a EU Recovery
dedicated plan and increased coordination of travel
restrictions. I am convinced that if we keep
working together for hospitality, our sector can
prevail and power the green and digital transitions

.”


Background:


Following the input given by


the EU heads of State and Government


, the European Commission

presented in March

a proposal to create a Digital Green Certificate to
facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within
the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.


On 14 April the Council of the EU agreed


its negotiating mandate on the proposal while the
European Parliament adopted its negotiating mandate

on 29 April

. The negotiations between the two institutions

started this week

, the next trilogue will take place on 11 May. The aim
is to reach an agreement ahead of the summer tourist
season.


Through the


resolution on the COVID-19 pandemic vaccination
campaign


adopted in February 2021, the CoR already expressed its
support of the creation of a standardised and
interoperable form of proof of vaccination for medical
purposes, considering that certification of vaccination
is a medical necessity.


In its two leading opinions on tourism, adopted in 2020
-


rapporteur, Manuel Alejandro Cardenete Flores
(ES/RE)


– and 2016 –


rapporteur Hanspeter Wagner (AT/EPP)


-, the CoR has made its expectations known. They
include:


· a call to draw up a new European Sustainable Tourism
Framework, aligned with the European Green Deal and the
2030 Agenda of the United Nations;


· the set-up of an interinstitutional contact group on
tourism and a European-wide alliance and network of
tourism regions/cities;


· the creation of a common framework
for a virtual European Citizens’ Travel Card programme to increase cohesion among regions
and highlight the role of tourism for promoting
European citizenship and culture;


Contacts:


Matteo Miglietta


Tel. +32 (0)470 895 382



[email protected]





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