Frexit! EU’s ‘absurd’ and ‘harmful’ vaccine plan sparks calls for France to leave bloc

EU: 'Real split' over vaccine passport idea says expert

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The so-called green passport project, which will be presented by Brussels on Wednesday, will only accept COVID-19 vaccines approved by the European Medicine Agency (EMA) so far. An EU official on Friday said the plan will exclude jabs from Russia and China for the time being.

A move that Mr Gallois claimed to be the umpteenth proof of Brussels’ “harmful” approach to vaccine strategies.

He said: “A totally absurd measure for France which receives many Asian and Russian tourists.

“The EU is showing all its harmfulness in this COVID19 crisis!

“Let’s take back control.”

Currently, only four vaccines have been approved by the EMA: those from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson since Thursday.

This excludes the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine used in Hungary as well as the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, also ordered by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The EU official said European citizens will be able to have this certificate on their phones.

Holders will be able to “show that they are very likely not going to spread the virus”, they said.

They added it “would make it easier for people who need to travel to do so.”

They explained: “For example, if you are vaccinated, you will not have to do the PCR tests.”

Southern EU countries reliant on tourism hope such passports would help unlock its summer season this year but ran into opposition from Germany, France and Belgium stressing that inoculation is neither obligatory nor available to all.

European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Thursday: “We are working on a certificate – it’s not a passport – but it’s not only about vaccination. It about recovery for the people who had sickness, vaccination or test.

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“We don’t have mandatory vaccine so it’s possible to refuse to be vaccinated.

“And we don’t have for the moment the capacity to organise vaccination for all the people who want to be vaccinated.

“We don’t want to have any discrimination.”

The EU’s slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been widely criticised, with only about 5 percent of people inoculated so far and the bloc’s target of inoculating 70 percent of its adult population by the end of the summer seen to be increasingly in question.

But, keen to revive economic growth mauled by the pandemic, the bloc’s 27 national leaders agreed last month to prepare joint rules for such COVID-19 “green certificates” before the summer.

They must yet agree, however, how exactly to use them and what travel rights would be attached.

In the UK, British Airways’ chief executive Sean Doyle is urging the Government to “set an example” and “be ambitious” in developing systems that enable people to travel overseas.

This includes the use of digital technology to verify the vaccination and test status of passengers, he explained.

Mr Doyle said the UK can be “very proud” of the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the relatively high number of people who have already received a COVID-19 jab compared with other countries.

He said: “We’re making great progress in Britain in dealing with the pandemic.

“It’s fair to say that Britain has developed a really strong leadership position in coming out the other end of the pandemic.

“What we want to make sure is that we also take that leadership position into restoring travel and restoring the economy.”

He added: “We can be ambitious, and we can pursue this opportunity in a way that others could follow.”

British Airways is trialling the use of a “mobile travel health passport”, produced by VeriFLY, to enable passengers travelling from London to the US to prove they meet US entry requirements before they board a flight.

Mr Doyle, who replaced Alex Cruz as the carrier’s boss in October 2020, warned that the UK will find it “very hard” to reopen for business and investment if travel remains heavily restricted.

It is “pretty obvious that governments and countries want to accept British travellers again”, Mr Doyle said, citing recent announcements from France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus about easing border restrictions.

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