EU reached an agreement on Digital COVID Certificates
The EU Commission announced the provisional political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council regarding the regulation governing the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This means that the certificate (previously called the Digital Green Certificate) is well on track to be ready end of June, as planned.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate – key features and what does it mean?
Following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU Digital COVID Certificate:
- Will cover vaccination, test and recovery;
- Will be available in a digital and paper-based format, depending on the choice of the recipients, and contain a digitally signed QR code;
- Will be free of charge, be obtained easily and also available to persons vaccinated before the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation has entered into force;
- May also be used by Member States for national purposes, if this is provided for in national law;
- Member States shall refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health;
- The Commission will also mobilize € 100 million to support Member States in providing affordable tests.
What will happen next?
The political agreement will now have to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. The Regulation will enter into force on 1 July, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time.
In parallel, the Commission will continue to support the Member States in finalizing their national solutions for the issuance and verification of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
EU updates recommendations on restrictions to travel from third countries
For restrictions on non-essential travel to be lifted for a given third country, under the new rules the number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 inhabitants over the last 14 days is raised from 25 to 75. The progress in having the population vaccinated against the virus should also be taken into account. At the same time, to respond to the risk posed by new variants, the detection in a country of variants of interest should now be considered together with variants of concern.
Other existing criteria continue to apply, including a stable or decreasing trend of new cases, the number of tests performed, a 4% positivity rate among all tests carried out, the overall response to COVID-19 in the country and the reliability of the available information. Reciprocity should continue to be taken into account on a case-by-case basis.
Lifting of restrictions for vaccinated persons
If member states accept proof of vaccination to waive travel restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they should in principle lift restrictions on non-essential travel for third-country travellers who have received the last recommended dose of an EMA-approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival. Member states could also lift the restriction on non-essential travel to those who have received at least 14 days before the last recommended dose of a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process.
Where lifting these restrictions, member states should take into account reciprocity on a case-by-case basis.
Once adopted, the digital green certificate regulation will provide the basis, through a Commission implementing act, for treating third country vaccination certificates equivalent to digital green certificates. Until then, member states should be able to accept third-country certificates containing at least a minimum data set, in accordance with national law and taking into account the need to be able to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate.