EU unveils the proposal for the Digital Green Certificate
Today, the European Commission has unveiled its proposal for the creation of a green electronic certificate to facilitate safe free movement within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is the Digital Green Certificate?
The green certificate or green passport will be proof that the holder has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, has tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or has been cured of COVID-19. Certificates will be available free of charge, in digital format or on paper, and will include a QR code to guarantee their security and authenticity.
What are the key elements of the Digital Green Certificate?
- The Digital Green Certificate system covers three different types of COVID-19 certificates: a vaccination certificate, a test certificate, and a certificate of recovery (for people who have been infected with the virus and are now cured).
- The certificates can be issued and used in all EU Member States to facilitate free movement.
- Being vaccinated will not be a pre-condition to travel. All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU and this applies regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. The same principle applies to the rights of non-EU nationals staying or residing in the EU Member States and who have the right to travel to the other Member States. The Digital Green Certificate will make it easier to exercise that right, also through testing and recovery certificates.
- The certificate can be used across all EU Member States. It can also be introduced in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland. The Digital Green Certificate will also be open to initiatives being developed globally.
How will it help to facilitate safe free movement?
The Digital Green Certificate can serve as proof of vaccination, testing and recovery in order to waive restrictions to free movement put in place in various states.
If a Member State accepts proof of vaccination to waive restrictions to free movement, it will have to accept proof of vaccination issued by another Member State in relation to vaccines that have received EU market authorization.
Member States will have the option to extend this to travelers who receive other vaccines.
When traveling, every Digital Green Certificate holder will have the same rights as citizens of the visited Member State who have been vaccinated, tested, or recovered.
States can still continue to require holders of a digital green certificate to quarantine on arrival or get a test before arrival, but if they do so they must notify the Commission and all other Member States and provide reasons for such measures.
What does that mean for travel in the EU?
This means that the vaccine will not be mandatory for travel in the EU and that people will be able to travel also based on a negative result to a test or based on the proof that they have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and are now cured.
The Commission will set up a portal to ensure that all certificates can be checked throughout the EU and will support the Member States in the technical implementation of certificates.
In order to be ready before the beginning of summer, this proposal must be adopted swiftly by the European Parliament and the Council.