Hungarian citizens who have requested a European licensed vaccine as a second dose after an Eastern vaccine, or who have received the third vaccine from one of the vaccines approved by the European Union after two eastern vaccines, will become full holders of the single EU covid certificate, István Ujhelyi, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), announced.
MSZP MEP István Ujhelyi said that this was confirmed after he asked the European Commission for a formal legal interpretation of the existing rules. He then received first in writing, then in person at a meeting on Tuesday, information on the acceptance of the eastern vaccination from Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. In the past year, eastern vaccines not recognized by the EU but used in Hungary have not been accepted as adequate protection in most Member States. The restriction has so far affected Hungary in the EU, where vaccines from Russia’s Sputnik and China’s Sinopharm have been used. Neither of these vaccines has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), so Hungarians who received those vaccines could only travel to EU countries with a negative test (as could unvaccinated people).
According to Ujhelyi’s announcement, Didier Reynders has made it clear to him that all EU Member States are obliged to accept EU vaccines administered for one or two eastern vaccines as a condition for entry without restrictions, i.e. without costly testing for the Hungarians concerned.
The MSZP MEP called the announcement good news, but also pointed out that the EU institutions have only made border crossing and entry free of restrictions, while it is always necessary to find out about individual restrictions within the borders of the member states (restaurants, public transport, use of social spaces, etc.), as these are the responsibility of the countries concerned and may differ from one another.
In this context, Ujhelyi, in his capacity as the EP’s commissioner responsible for the committee, has asked the commissioner responsible to urge national governments to use protocols that are as uniform as possible and in line with the existing rules on Covid. He added that the review of the uniform covid visa system will soon be submitted to the European Parliament, during which he will ask for further guarantees as MEP to ensure that the positive changes remain in place.
However, the practice has shown otherwise in recent months, as in Austria, where the Grüner Pass has turned green for those who took an EMA-approved vaccine as a third vaccine after the two eastern vaccines. The Chinese vaccine has already been accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO), so some countries have made exceptions for those vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine, but not yet for the Russian one. This has caused difficulties for those vaccinated with eastern vaccines. The announcement is important, because full EU travel was previously understood to be conditional on two doses of a western vaccine (which was impractical after two eastern doses before the fourth vaccine)- now, one is enough.
Ujhelyi urges all concerned to inform the Socialist MEP if they are nevertheless facing restrictions on their freedom of movement, as in that case the Member State in question is in breach of EU rules.
Sources: 24.hu, Portfolio
Featured image via Zoltán Balogh/MTI