Spain rejects free PCR tests for Covid passport, as requested by European Parliament


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The European Parliament’s demand that PCR tests are free, as are vaccines became the main stumbling block to approve the European Covid passport, which aims to resume travel in summer. Although he is one of the main promoters of this certificate, the government of Pedro Sánchez rejects this gratuity on the grounds that it would involve an unaffordable financial burden. A position shared by most of the Member States.

This dispute between governments and the European Parliament threatens to delay the deployment of the certificate beyond June, since an agreement between the two institutions is necessary. The first phase of the technical tests of the Covid passport began this week. Any delay would harm especially Spain and the rest of the southern countries more dependent on tourism, which consider it a key instrument of economic recovery.

the Covid passport It must be used to certify that a person has received the Covid-19 vaccine, but also if they have a recent negative test (PCR or antigens) or have recovered from the coronavirus. However, while vaccines are free throughout the EU, the price of a PCR test can far exceed 100 euros depending on the country. Therefore, the European Parliament asks for a total gratuity to put an end to this discrimination.

EU Secretary of State Juan González-Barba reported on Tuesday that Spain is part of the “great majority” of Member States which “encounter difficulties” so that PCR tests are free. The reason is the cost that this would entail especially for tourist countries, since this summer there will still be many travelers who will have to take the test because the vaccine has not arrived.

“With the financial burden that this entails at the moment, the settlement could not be approved in June“González-Barba explained after a meeting in Brussels of the 27 ministers of European affairs.” From now on, many PCRs would still be necessary. Especially the countries of tourist destination, they should perhaps pay the PCR of the tourists who then returned to their country of origin ”, he insisted.

EU Secretary of State Juan González-Barba at Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels

EU

EU Secretary of State still sees possible a compromise solution between governments and the European Parliament on this issue. For example, set ceilings on test prices according to the purchasing power of each country or the minimum wage.

“The issue of free tests is very important for Parliament. We will have to come to terms and see what can be done to make them more affordable. We cannot put a price on testing in the EU, it is a free market. We can try to see if there is a possibility that the prices will drop, ”said Portuguese Secretary of State Ana Paula Zacarías.

She is responsible for negotiating with the European Parliament on behalf of the 27 because her country holds the rotating presidency of the Union. The rapporteur of the European Parliament for the Covid passport, and therefore defender of free tests, is precisely the deputy of the PSOE Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar.

The other major cause of dispute between governments and the European Parliament refers to the rights that holders of a Covid passport will enjoy. Parliament demands that they cannot be quarantined or otherwise prevented from traveling. On the other hand, Member States want to reserve an ’emergency brake’ to be able to block mobility, for example if new variants emerge that escape vaccines.

The President of the Government has made the Covid passport one of its political priorities in the European Union. At the summit held in Porto last weekend, Pedro Sánchez asked the rest of the leaders as well as the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, to speed up the procedures urgently approve this instrument.

This certificate will be approved and effective in June. Of this I have no doubt. The two institutions know what is at stake and it will be possible to find satisfactory formulas ”, assured González-Barba.

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