EU now accepting COVID passes from North Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine
The European Union has begun accepting COVID certificates issued by North Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The three countries are now connected to the EU system and their passes will be accepted under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate from Friday.
Travellers from the bloc will also be accepted in North Macedonia, Turkey, and Ukraine if they carry the EU certificate.
The digital pass states that citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, have tested negative for the virus, or are recovering from infection.
The move by the European Commission to adopt the three equivalence decisions aims to facilitate safe travel between the EU and its neighbouring countries.
"I am pleased to see that the list of countries implementing a system based on the EU Digital COVID Certificate is growing steadily and we are setting standards internationally," said EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.
"This will help to facilitate safe travel, also beyond the borders of our Union," Reynders said in a statement.
The announcement could however present hurdles related to COVID-19 vaccines that are not recognised by the EU.
So far the bloc has only approved four jabs for use, those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, but member states can choose to accept others.
Ukraine, Turkey, and North Macedonia have all also recognised China’s Sinovac jab, while the latter two also administer another Chinese one, from Sinopharm, as well as Russia’s Sputnik V.
The EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi stressed that the support of neighbouring countries was essential to progression during the coronavirus pandemic.
"As we fight the pandemic together, our partners are also an integral part of opening up safely together," said Várhelyi.
"I welcome Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Turkey in our Digital COVID Certificate system and look forward to more of our neighbours connecting soon."
The EU already has an equivalence agreement with non-member state Switzerland.