Majority of MP’s back bid for free coronavirus tests for travellers
A majority of Dutch parliamentarians support the idea of free coronavirus tests for European travellers holidaying abroad, RTL Nieuws reported. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in the Tweede Kamer that the Cabinet was investigating the legal snags of such a proposal and asked the MPs for more patience.
A test with a travel certificate taken in Amsterdam can cost 85 euros per person, and prices per person can even rise above 100 euros. Because of this, a motion for free tests was proposed by D66, and was also signed by CDA, SP, PvdA, GroenLinks, ChristenUnie, VOLT and DENK.
"We won’t be done vaccinating in the Netherlands by the summer, so the negative test can also be used, but it must also be available to everyone," said D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma. The text of the proposal said people should not be charged for tests every time they go abroad. The signatories alone account for 76 MPs in the lower house of Dutch Parliament, just enough for a majority out of the 150 seats.
The majority of MPs advocating for the introduction of free tests explained they were afraid charging money for Covid-19 tests would lead to increased social division. The parliamentarians feared that families with children, in particular, would face excessive costs if their proposal was dismissed.
"Take a young family with three children who want to go to a campsite. They will see the costs of their holiday increase with expensive tests. This creates a division in society and we do not want that," said Sjoerdsma.
"We must prevent the situation in which only people with money can travel, hence our plea for free testing," said SP MP Jasper van Dijk.
The EU member states and the European Parliament are currently negotiating the exact conditions of "Digital Green Certificates". Based on this, people who could demonstrate they have been vaccinated, tested negative or have antibodies from a previous infection of Covid-19 would be able to travel freely across 27 countries of the EU.
As of last week, the Dutch government appeared to be standing in the way of a proposal to make mandatory coronavirus testing for travel passengers free for everyone. The Netherlands reportedly supports an approach in which individual states are able to determine the costs of tests themselves.
The Dutch government opposed such a proposal out of fear it would endanger commercial testing centers whose entire business model revolves around charging for these tests.
The introduction of the certificates will be discussed at the upcoming EU summit of government leaders next week.