The European Commission has been busy, with it announcing that it wishes to create a Digital Green Certificate to help safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Digital Green Certificate will be “a proof” that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.
It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure the security and authenticity of the certificate.
To support this, the Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply for such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate.
The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates – vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19. They will be available digitally or in paper form. QR codes and digital signatures will be validated to ensure they are not tampered with.
These certificates are to be made free-of-charge to citizens in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.
The certificates will be issued to both – vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons. To prevent discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only an interoperable vaccination certificate but also COVID-19 test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
Data to be shared
In terms of data held, a limited dataset will be held. The European Commission proposes the following
- Date of birth
- Date of issuance
- Relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery
- A unique identifier of the certificate.
It is planned that this data can be checked only to confirm and verify the authenticity and validity of certificates.
The Digital Green Certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland. The Digital Green Certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. It should also be issued to non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to the other Member States.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová said:
“The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU. This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection. And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said:
“With the Digital Green Certificate, we are taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer. The Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement and it will not discriminate in any way. A common EU-approach will not only help us to gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation. It is also a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on our European values like data protection.”
Work to do before summer
This will need swift work, to be ready in time by the summer, requiring the European Parliament and the Council to agree on its implementation. It will require, Member States must implement the trust framework and technical standards to deploy this.
With some states needing the reassurance of travellers to recover after an awful year, the clock is ticking to get the work done in time.
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