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The planned immunity certificate system of the European Union could face irrelevance as various member states, among them Hungary, are introducing their own solutions to allowing vaccinated people to travel, either internationally or domestically. While the main concern is that the development of the European database is taking too long, Hungary’s use of bilateral agreements could likely be tied to its licensing of vaccines not authorized by the European Medicines Agency.

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders stated to the European Parliament that member states impede on the effectiveness of a single, joint vaccination certification system if they introduce their own vaccination certificates.

We would risk having a variety of documents that cannot be read and verified in other member states. And we risk the spread of forged documents, and with it, the spread of both the virus and the mistrust of citizens.”

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi said that Europe needs clear and simple rules for travel. Italy has allegedly been waiting for the green certificate’s finalization by the second half of June and has already created its immunity certificate for travel within the union.

Orbán in Porto: EU's Security Hinges on Coronavirus Vaccination
Orbán in Porto: EU's Security Hinges on Coronavirus Vaccination

The security of Europe depends on the vaccination rate of its population, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a video recorded in Porto, in Portugal, and published on Facebook on Friday. Speaking ahead of a European Union summit meeting focusing on social security, Orbán said that the community could only be made socially secure “if […]Continue reading

It would be especially important for Draghi that tourism return this summer, considering that it accounted for 13 percent of Italy’s GDP before the pandemic.

Southern Europe is hopeful that it will be able to secure large numbers of tourists for the summer, but analysts are fearful that the various credentials of different member states will create overcomplicated technical issues.

A specific date for beginning such continental travel is also slightly worrying, since countries with fewer people vaccinated and worse pandemic conditions may not be ready to reopen.

PMO Head Gulyás: Hungary 'First to Regain Freedom'
PMO Head Gulyás: Hungary 'First to Regain Freedom'

Through its vaccination drive Hungary has been able to break the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and become the first country in Europe “to regain its freedom”, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Thursday. Speaking at his weekly press briefing, Gergely Gulyás noted that some four million people, about 80 percent of […]Continue reading

There are also concerns over those who are not vaccinated. Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin believes the continent is limiting the freedom of people who are not yet vaccinated, while the World Health Organization worries that vaccine passports may altogether not be a good idea since those who have been inoculated could still spread the virus.

EU Vaccine Passport Too Slow

Countries around Europe have begun taking matters into their own hands, realizing that the universal registry system will take too long for their preference, and possible worrying that they will fall behind other nations if they wait for it.

The finalization of a Europe-wide system requires consensus from significantly more actors, and due to its scale, its completion is impeded by a long political and bureaucratic process.

EP Decides Not to Recognize Non-EMA Vaccines for "Vaccine Passport"
EP Decides Not to Recognize Non-EMA Vaccines for

The European Parliament voted down the modification to the upcoming “vaccine passport” law that would have required the automatic authorization of vaccines not approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) throughout the European Union. In reaction to the decision, Hungary has decided to open up opportunities for bilateral travel agreements with other nations in order […]Continue reading

Officials of the European Commission stated that the union’s system would enter testing next month, but the various nations of the European Union have already begun their own systems of ensuring that their citizens can travel following vaccination.

Member States Act Autonomously From the Union

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that he would like it if a unifying certification for all of Europe would be created quickly, but he fears that this wish will not become a reality anytime soon.

Conditions of Immunity Card Stirs up Tension in Reopened Hospitality Sector
Conditions of Immunity Card Stirs up Tension in Reopened Hospitality Sector

Gyms, theaters, libraries, zoos, hotels, interior spaces of restaurants, and numerous other services have all reopened in Hungary. Most places, however, are only available to those who have immunity cards. But the strict rules differentiating between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people have already generated tension and difficulties in many places across the country. After the number […]Continue reading

According to the chancellor, the union would complete its vaccination certificate during the summer, which is too late for Austria, tourism needs to kick in much sooner.

Kurz announced certification for Austrians who have been vaccinated, tested, or had recovered from the coronavirus.

Greece, Iceland, and Croatia have all started opening up their borders to vaccinated tourists from the United States, Britain, Israel, and the European Union, not requiring quarantine. Croatia, for example, allows tourists to register their vaccinations online in order to receive a Croatian immunity document.

Hungary, Slovenia, Bahrain to Mutually Recognise Vaccination Certificates
Hungary, Slovenia, Bahrain to Mutually Recognise Vaccination Certificates

Hungary has agreed with Slovenia and Bahrain to mutually recognise immunity certificates and allow free travel for their citizens irrespective of the type of vaccine they have been inoculated with, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Facebook on Saturday. Szijjártó said that the agreement with Slovenia was effective from Saturday, […]Continue reading

Opportunities for bilateral recognition of immunity certificates for travel, regardless of the European Union, have become much more popular recently as well.

Bilateral Agreements to Replace European Registry?

Following Romania and Hungary’s agreement to recognize each other’s immunity certificates, Romanian Prime Minister Florin Cîțu said that they are willing to accept any EU member state’s vaccination certificates, and that they do not see why other countries would not recognize theirs.

Romania and Hungary to Accept Each Other’s Immunity Certificates
Romania and Hungary to Accept Each Other’s Immunity Certificates

Hungary and Romania have agreed to mutually accept each other’s immunity certificates, Romanian prime minister Florin Cîțu confirmed on Thursday. Unfortunately, this does not change the fact that Transylvanian Hungarians who were vaccinated in Romania but live in Hungary cannot get a Hungarian immunity certificate. Florin Cîțu said the foreign ministries of the two nations are […]Continue reading

These bilateral agreements are especially relevant to Hungary, which has been able to secure several of them after the European Parliament voted not to automatically authorize non-European Medicines Agency approved vaccines.

Hungary has made agreements with Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bahrain, Romania, and is continuing negotiations with, according to Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás, “a countless number of countries.”

Such travel negotiations offer Hungary a solution to its use of Non-EMA approved vaccines, and the more countries it finalizes such agreements with, the less meaning it will have to follow the union’s proposed green certificate system.

PMO Head: More Bilateral Travel Agreements with Certificate In Works, Promises to Solve Registration Problem
PMO Head: More Bilateral Travel Agreements with Certificate In Works, Promises to Solve Registration Problem

Hungary is in bilateral negotiations with a number of countries on the mutual acceptance of immunity certificates, so there’s no reason to fear the possible travel restrictions brought on by certain vaccine types, Chief of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás said during the government’s press conference on Thursday. The vaccination campaign of foreign nationals […]Continue reading

It is possible that this mosaic of various preexisting agreements in the EU will complicate the universal vaccination registry system into a bureaucratic nightmare, but it is understandable that member-states want a solution sooner, rather than later.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI