Covid-19: the twenty-seven try to save the European health pass

A woman shows her European health pass in Rome on November 23, 2021.

The subject had not disappeared from their discussions, but it had taken a back seat since this summer. On Thursday, December 16, the Covid-19 pandemic was once again at the center of discussions between European heads of state and government, who met in Brussels for their last meeting of the year. The appearance of the Omicron variant, which, according to the Commission, could become dominant in Europe from mid-January 2022, has altered the appearance of a return to normality in the Old Continent, made possible by the rise of power. of vaccination. .

“Omicron screwed up the agenda,” exclaims a diplomat. On Thursday morning, the Twenty-Seven, who were supposed to address three topics: the health situation, the resistance of the European Union (EU) and the increase in energy prices, spoke exclusively about Covid-19. “It is a race against time,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as the new variant spreads at high speed and vaccination remains the main weapon to contain it. Today 67% of the European population have received two injections, but this rate is less than 50% in three countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia). Regarding the administration of the booster dose, it is progressing but only affects 18% of Europeans to date.

Reportage: Article reserved for our subscribers Covid-19: in the Balkans, the denial and rejection of vaccines provoke a massacre

“The answer” to the variant is “to accelerate our vaccination programs,” Mitsotakis continued. The day before, the Greek leader had sent another message, announcing that, from now on, to come to his country, a PCR test would have to be presented, whether he had previously vaccinated or not. A decision that amounts, in fact, to denying the usefulness of the European health pass, created to allow its holders to circulate freely within the EU. On Thursday he clarified that these new limitations would apply only during the Christmas period, “to save time and inject as many third doses as possible.”

Individual initiatives

Athens is not the only one that, in recent days, has undermined the European health certificate and free movement within the community. In early December, Portugal and Ireland had already made similar announcements. Earlier this week, Rome decided that vaccinated people will now have to perform a PCR or antigen test upon arrival; the others must, in addition, carry out a five-day isolation. The Mario Draghi government did not consider it useful to warn the Commission or neighboring countries that minimal European coordination would have required.

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