Published on : Friday, March 19, 2021
The European Commission has recently issued proposals for a digital green certificate designed to facilitate safe free movement inside the European Union during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document would serve as a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus. The certificate will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format once it is issued. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate.
The commission is expected to build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support member states in the technical implementation of certificates. However, states have to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a certificate. The certificate will be valid in all EU member states and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland to be ready before the summer season. It will be offered to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality.
Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, European Commission said in a statement that 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. She said that it is a good message in support of recovery and mentioned that the key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection as the EU continue working towards international convergence with other partners.
Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, EU said in a statement that with the digital green certificate, EU is taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer. He mentioned that the digital green certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement, and it will not discriminate in any way. He shared that a common EU-approach will not only help to gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation but also give a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on European values like data protection.
Gloria Guevara, CEO and President, World Travel & Tourism Council said in a statement that WTTC sees the digital green certificate as a major step towards the recovery of tourism in the region. She mentioned that the introduction of the new certificate to travel could see member states welcoming travellers with proof of vaccination, a negative test or a positive antibody test, in time for the busy summer period and said that it would provide a significant and much needed boost to economies and save millions of jobs and livelihoods.
She congratulated the European Commission for its incredible efforts in bringing the initiative to life in such a short period of time and added that the onus is now on member states and the European Parliament to adopt the new initiative, and urged them to take the necessary steps to implement it as a matter of urgency. She stated that the proposed digital green certificate, along with enhanced health and hygiene measures and mandatory mask wearing, will provide the reassurance consumers need to book their trips and ensure the return of safe international travel.