Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.18 3 Mar 2021


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An Irish MEP has said it is crucial for Ireland that the UK would sign up to any EU-wide vaccine passport for travel.

The proposal could see the European Union roll-out a passport for people who have been inoculated against the coronavirus.

It is thought this could see people who have had the jab present a vaccination certificate when travelling across borders.

The European Commission is working with member states for a common approach, to allow the certificates to be "rapidly useable in health systems across the EU and beyond."

However Dublin MEP Barry Andrews told The Hard Shoulder as Ireland is outside the EU Schengen Area, and shares a Common Travel Area with Britain, UK cooperation would be important.

"Tourism is on its knees, and the Irish tourist industry has been decimated over the last year.

"Everything we can do to try to facilitate movement across borders should be done.

"At this point it's too early to say that this can happen, or when it can happen, but it's important that we put in place the technology to make sure that we have a common EU format that is interoperable across borders - so that it is compatible no matter what member state you're in.

"The crucial part for Ireland of course is that the UK is included in whatever is proposed by the European Union.

"Let's have it now, let's set it up now, let's make sure that there's some kind of summer.

"If we have a widespread vaccination campaign, it also has to be combined with normal handwashing, test and trace, mask wearing and all of the hygiene elements in order to get some kind of a tourism season back up and running."

However he said this would also incorporate seasonal workers, hauliers and cross-border workers.

Mr Andrews said MEPs are looking at different tests that would be accepted for travel.

"We recognise that it's not just PCR tests that should be accepted on these certificates - but also rapid testing, antigen testing which has been effective in other places.

"So it's going to make travel easier, it's going to make transport easier and also for seasonal workers - which is going to become a big issue in the next couple of months."

In the context of the UK being included in the EU system, Mr Andrews said it would be politically damaging if they were excluded.

"I think politically this would be very damaging for the UK if they find that there is an EU-wide interoperable system for access to tourism and the UK citizens are excluded from that because of a political choice in Westminster.

"I think that will cost the government very severely".

'Crucial for Ireland' that UK is included in EU vaccine passport system - MEP

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: A woman heads toward border control for the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA/EWR) and Swiss citizens in Dusseldorf Airport, Germany in 2014. Picture by: Federico Gambarini/DPA/PA Images

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Barry Andrews Common Travel Area Coronavirus Cross Border Travel EU Schengen Area Travel Vaccine Passport

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