The EU commission on Thursday recommended that the bloc’s vaccination certificate, which has allowed free travel of Covid-vaccinated Europeans, be valid only up to nine months after a second dose.
The EU is looking to update its Covid certificate that has made travel easier within the bloc as a surge of covid cases raises fears that cross border movement could be again under threat.
“We propose a validity of nine months for the European anti-covid certificate and beyond this period, its validity would no longer be recognized in the absence of a booster dose,” EU commissioner Didier Reynders said in a press briefing.
This period takes into account guidelines by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on booster doses after six months and leaves an additional three months to give countries time to adjust vaccination campaigns, Reynders added.
The EU’s covid certificate is seen as a success story for keeping cross border travel open for vaccinated Europeans, giving a much needed boost to the pandemic stricken economy, especially the tourism sector.
The certificate, backed by legislation approved by the European Parliament, came into force in July and allows bearers travelling within the European Union to prove they were fully vaccinated, had a recent negative Covid test, or were recovered from the coronavirus.
Its use helped European summer destinations such as Greece bounce back, and several other non-EU countries, including Britain, have since also plugged into the system.
But climbing case numbers in several EU countries as winter pushes people indoors have prompted some governments to start tightening restrictions again.
Austria has a national lockdown, the Netherlands a curfew for bars and Germany is poised to announce new measures.
Several countries, including Greece, France and Germany, are moving towards requiring a third booster shot for someone to be considered fully vaccinated, given mounting evidence that the effectiveness of current jabs wanes after four or five months.
But, at an EU level, that would leave several, mainly eastern, member states out in the cold, given their relatively very low vaccination rates even for one or two doses.
The recommendation by the EU executive would need to be approved by the member states as well as the European Parliament.
“It is a new recommendation, we will see what the reactions of the member states will be,” said Reynders.
The issue is expected to be one of the main ones tackled at an EU summit scheduled for December 16-17.