In a significant development which will speed up the return of travel in Europe, the European Commission has today (21 May) welcomed a provisional political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the regulation governing the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
Previously called the Digital Green Certificate, the welcoming of the regulation by the European Commission means the certificate could be in place by the end of June as planned.
The agreement was reached just two months after the Commission’s proposal. Negotiations on the certificate for the Commission were led by Commissioner in close cooperation with Vice Presidents Vera Jourová and Margaritis Schinas and Commissioners Thierry Breton, Stella Kyriakides and Ylva Johansso.
Following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU Digital Covid Certificate will cover vaccination, test and recovery. It will be available in a digital and paper-based format, depending on the choice of the recipients and contain a digitally-signed QR code.
The certificate will be free of charge, easy to obtain and be available to persons vaccinated before the EU Digital Covid Certificate has been implemented.
TESTING ASSISTANCE FOR MEMBER STATES
It may also be used by member states for national purposes, if this is provided for in national law. Member states must refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on EU Digital Covid Certificate holders, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.
The Commission will also mobilise €100 million to support member states in providing affordable tests.
Today’s political agreement must now 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 to member states requiring additional time.
In parallel, the Commission will continue supporting member states in finalising their national solutions for the issuance and verification of the EU Digital Covid Certificate and providing technical and financial support to member states to on-board the gateway.
Ursula von der Leyen, President, European Commission commented: “We are delivering on our commitment to have the EU Digital Covid Certificate up and running before the summer. European citizens are looking forward to travelling again and today’s agreement means they will be able to do so safely very soon.
“The EU Digital Covid Certificate is free of charge, secure and accessible to all. It will cover vaccination, test and recovery offering different options to the citizens. It fully respects citizens’ fundamental rights, including protection of personal data.
“All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU. The EU Digital Covid Certificate, available in paper or digital format, will make it easier for Europeans to travel — whether to see their families and loved ones or to get some well-deserved rest.
“We would like to thank the European Parliament and the Portuguese Presidency for their dedication, perseverance and immense work at record speed to find an agreement on the proposal we presented.”
The EU Digital Covid Certificate will be ready in the next few days at EU level, according to Von der Leyen who added: “It is now crucial that all member states press ahead with the roll-out of their national systems to ensure that the system can be up and running as soon as possible. This is what EU citizens rightly expect.
“Today’s agreement has demonstrated that with the commitment and cooperation of all, the EU Digital Covid Certificate will be available on time.”
Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President, World Travel & Tourism Council commented: “WTTC welcomes the agreement reached on the EU Digital Covid Certificate, which has now been given the green light by all member states.
KEY TO UNLOCKING INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
This new certificate could be the key to unlocking international travel and save thousands of businesses and millions of jobs across Europe and beyond.
“It will see all 27 member states welcoming vaccinated travellers and those with proof of a negative test or a positive antibody test in time for the peak summer season, which will provide a massive and much-needed boost to economies.
“We call on all member states to have the certificate up and running by July 1 with no extra restrictions.
“The European Commission must be applauded for its incredible efforts in launching this major initiative, which could be the driving force behind the resurrection of Travel & Tourism.
“For more than a year, the travel & tourism sector has suffered like never before, with 62 million people around the world losing their jobs. This initiative will aid the restoration of safe international travel.”
As reported in March, the European Travel Retail Confederation welcomed the proposal of the certificate in the hope it would facilitate safe and free movement within the European Union during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking more recently at the Central & Eastern European Travel Retail Association (CEETRA) workshop, which took place on Thursday (19 May) Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General, European Travel Retail Confederation said: “The European Parliament has adopted a very strong position in favour of Digital Green Certificates and the Parliament has even added that they want member states to provide testing free of charge to allow travel to restart quicker.”