Earlier last month, the EU agreed on the launch of its ‘Digital COVID Certificate,’ which is intended to facilitate free movement across the bloc by allowing for the swift verification of the pass holder’s coronavirus status. This status verification can take the form of proof of vaccination, a negative coronavirus test result, or proof of recovery from the virus.  

With several member states already using this digital certificate, and EU-wide deployment starting on 1 July, the latest research at Redfield & Wilton Strategies conducted in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain looks at what Europeans think about the use of vaccine passports. 

We find that strong majorities in Germany (60%), Italy (66%), and Spain (66%) say they would support the introduction of vaccine passports to verify that an individual has been vaccinated. Accordingly, opposition is relatively low in all three countries: 17% of Germans, 14% of Italians, and 12% of Spaniards say they oppose the introduction of vaccine passports. Though still largely favourable, public opinion is slightly more split in France, where 49% support and 26% oppose the introduction of vaccine passports. By comparison, in March 2021 we found that 69% of Britons supported the introduction of vaccine passports to verify that an individual has been vaccinated, while 12% opposed.

While those who oppose the introduction of vaccine passports to verify that an individual has been vaccinated represent a minority in all four European countries polled, it is noteworthy that these minorities often tend to have particularly strong feelings about vaccine passports. This finding is most pronounced in France, where the 26% of respondents that oppose include 9% who simply oppose, along with 17% who strongly oppose the introduction of vaccine passports. 

In all four countries, opposition to the introduction of vaccine passports is significantly higher among respondents who have not received a vaccine, potentially reflecting fears among this demographic group that they may experience a number of disadvantages if vaccine passports were to be introduced. 

This difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated respondents is again most pronounced in France: 11% of those who have already received a coronavirus vaccine oppose the introduction of vaccine passports, compared to 41% who have not received a vaccine. The difference is less pronounced in the remaining countries polled: 7% of vaccinated Germans oppose, compared to 26% of Germans who have not received a coronavirus vaccine. In Italy and Spain, a respective 4% and 6% of those who have received a vaccine oppose the introduction of vaccine passports, compared to 23% and 17% of respondents who have not received one.  

In addition, while support for the introduction of vaccine passports is generally high across the political spectrum in Italy and Spain, our research reveals stark differences depending on respondents’ political affiliations in France and Germany. Indeed, while 64% of those who voted for Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the 2017 French Presidential Election support the introduction of vaccine passports, only 39% of respondents who voted for Marine Le Pen do. Similarly, 73% of respondents who voted for the CDU/CSU and 71% who voted for the SPD in the 2017 German Federal Election support the introduction of vaccine passports, whereas a significantly lower proportion of 37% of respondents who voted for the AfD do. 

When asked about the circumstances in which respondents would be willing to carry vaccine passports to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated, majorities of German (54%), Italian (62%), and Spanish respondents (63%), along with a plurality (40%) of French respondents, say they would be willing to carry a vaccine passport with them for all circumstances

Smaller but still significant proportions of respondents would be willing to carry a vaccine passport only for international travel to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated. 30% of respondents in France take this view, as do 24% of Germans, 22% of Italians, and 23% of Spaniards. 

At the same time, 30% of French respondents would not be willing to carry a vaccine passport at all. This proportion rises to 50% of those who have not received a coronavirus vaccine, compared to 12% of those who have. Among Germans, 22% overall would not be willing to carry a vaccine passport at all, including 6% of vaccinated respondents and 35% of unvaccinated respondents. In Italy and Spain, a respective 16% and 14% of respondents overall would not be willing to carry a vaccine passport at all. These proportions include a respective 6% and 7% of vaccinated respondents, as well as 26% and 19% of those who have not received a coronavirus vaccine.

Attitudes in continental Europe regarding respondents’ willingness to carry a vaccine passport to demonstrate they have been vaccinated are broadly similar to attitudes in Great Britain. In May, we found that 62% of Britons would be willing to carry a vaccine passport for all circumstances, with a further 24% saying they would be willing to carry one, but only for international travel. 14% of respondents overall would not be willing to carry a vaccine passport at all, including 8% of those who have and 27% of those who have not received a coronavirus vaccine. 

Overall, majorities in Germany, Italy, and Spain support the introduction of vaccine passports and would be willing to carry them for all circumstances, a view shared by almost half of respondents in France. These results suggest that the implementation of the EU’s ‘Digital COVID Certificate’ is likely to be regarded positively by many voters in these member states. At the same time, across all countries polled, we observe significantly higher levels of opposition to vaccine passports among respondents who have not received a coronavirus vaccine. Yet, to the extent that fears over disadvantages for the unvaccinated may be a key driver of such opposition, it appears likely that support for vaccine passports will increase further as more and more people receive their coronavirus vaccination in the near future.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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