ATHENS – After saying COVID-19 vaccinations wouldn’t be mandatory in Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis now wants them required – all across the European Union – people barred from traveling in the bloc otherwise.
Mitsotakis wrote European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to urge the introduction of a coronavirus vaccination certificate that would ease travel between member-states in the bloc, Politico reported.
The New Democracy leader said an EU certificate is needed for “facilitating the freedom of movement of persons who have been vaccinated against Covid-19,” the letter said, reported the news site.
“It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member-states,” Mitsotakis, who hopes to bring up the issue at an EU summit on Jan. 21 said.
He said it “may sound simple… the lengthy experience we have had on developing a common PLF (Passenger Locator Form) has shown us that there is an urgent need for a high-level EU-wide mobilization to move things forward.”
“Ensuring the quickest possible re-establishment of freedom of movement … is, of necessity, a fundamental priority for us all,” Mitsotakis said, adding that Greece, however, is “not going to make vaccination compulsory or a prerequisite for travel, persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.”
A certificate, he also said, would further “provide a positive incentive for ensuring that citizens are encouraged to undergo vaccination.”
A big problem for the idea, however, is that Greece is only vaccinating about 8,000 people a day in a country of 10.5 million people and wants to inoculate 70 percent – 7.35 million people – by the summer although there isn’t enough supply yet.
If vaccines don’t meet that mark in Greece and elsewhere in the EU that would mean that those left out wouldn’t be allowed to travel – including to Greece, which desperately wants tourists to help speed recovery.
Τhe issues raised in Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' letter are expected to be discussed by EU leaders at the European Council, European Commission spokesperson on Health issues Stefan De Keersmaecker said on Tuesday.
Specifically, he said that the issues raised in the letter, along with other matters concerning vaccination against Covid-19, will be discussed at the European Council, adding that "we are expecting the results of this important meeting so that we are in a position to analyse and reply to the Greek prime minister's letter".