Emmanuel Macron is leading criticisms of vaccine passports as a way to reopen the continent to travel and has slowed down any progress made on their introduction. Countries like Greece and Austria, whose economy is heavily reliant on tourism, urged EU member-states to push ahead with the documents which have caused a split among European nations. French President Macron and other heads of state were warned that the bureaucracy and politicking surrounding the passports may mean – like with their vaccine procurement – the bloc falls behind other international actors yet again in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on France 24, journalist Dave Keating was asked why Macron is opposed to the idea of a vaccination passport.
He said: “Well there’s a real split on this, you’re seeing the southern European countries so eager to get tourism back in time for the summer.
“They’re really pushing for this, they are supported by several other countries, most notably Austria, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel seem to be coming around to the idea at her press conference last night.
“But other countries, most notably France have a lot of concerns about this for a variety of reasons.
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“One is that it might give people a false sense of security, we don’t yet know whether the vaccines actually prevent the transmission of the virus.
“So it could be that the vaccine might protect you but you could still carry the virus and give it to someone else.
“So if you’re allowed on a plane and go to a country and everybody’s going into thinking it is fine because a number of people are vaccinated that could cause a big problem especially with new variants.
“The other problem is about personal liberties, if you start requiring the certificate, especially for normal things like going to a movie theatre or a concert, then you’re effectively requiring everyone to get the vaccine.
“And you could get a big pushback from the public.
“The counter-argument is that these certificates are going to happen no matter what.
“And if the EU doesn’t get ahead on this and create an EU wide standardised certificate, you could get a situation where you have 27 different national certificates in the EU and countries aren’t recognising each other’s certificates.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be a national decision for each country whether and how they want to require these certificates.
“So leaders were saying to Macron, ‘If you in France don’t want to use these certificates that’s your business’ but your citizens are going to want to make sure that if they get a vaccination in France they will receive a certificate that will be recognised across the bloc.
“So that they can go to Greece and take a vacation, and if the EU doesn’t start working on the standardisation now other people may get ahead.
“Google and Apple we know are already working on a digital version of this.
“And so, I think there is consensus at this point that the EU should at least create the standards for this.”