The European Commission has presented the Digital Green Certificate, a kind of health ‘passport’ that would allow EU citizens to circumvent travel restrictions within the block and that will be key to the reactivation of tourism.
Free, on paper or electronically, it will allow travel based on three specific parameters: 1) having been vaccinated against the coronavirus with one of the sera authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – although States are given freedom “can decide accept other vaccines. 2) Have a negative test. Or 3) having overcome the disease and, consequently, possess antibodies.
‘We propose a common approach that will guide us on the path towards our goal of reopening the EU to a safe, sustainable and predictable environment. The situation with the virus in Europe remains very challenging and confidence in the decisions made is essential. Only through a joint approach can we safely return to full free movement on the basis of transparent measures and full mutual trust, ”stressed the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides.
The certificate will be supported by a QR code with a signature that will protect it from possible counterfeiting attempts and that would be shown at the airport or when crossing borders. When this digital signature of authenticity is scanned, it would also be verified. Each issuing body (for example, a hospital, a health centre or a health authority) would have its own code, according to the Brussels project.
All information will be stored “in a secure database” in each country. The task of the European Commission will be the development of a ‘Gateway’ that allows access and verification of certificates and signatures in each of the States, in addition to helping in the development of software that will allow the verification of QR codes . Brussels emphasizes that, in any case, the owner’s most sensitive personal data would not pass through that common platform since it would not be necessary “to verify the digital signature.
This ‘passport’ would be implemented and consequently ‘accepted’ throughout the EU. “It will help to ensure that the restrictions currently in force can be lifted in a coordinated manner.” When travelling, all European or third country citizens legally resident in the EU would be exempted from restrictions on free movement. If a Member State decides to continue requiring quarantine periods or complementary tests, even if it is proven to be the bearer of the Digital Green Certificate, it would be obliged to notify the European Commission and the rest of its partners.
“Vaccinated and not vaccinated”, they should benefit from this pass to travel within the EU. In fact, the Brussels Executive stresses that “to prevent discrimination against the unvaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only a vaccination certificate, but also COVID-19 test certificates and for people who have recovered from the disease.” . All of this should be enough to lift general restrictions on non-essential travel and complementary measures such as quarantines. Although if a Member State decided to continue to demand them, it would be obliged to notify the European Commission and the rest of its partners.
The system is proposed as a temporary measure. In fact, the European Commission is moving forward as it will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the international health emergency due to Covid-19.
Once the project has been presented, and for the Certificate to be activated before the summer, “rapid adoption” by the European Parliament and the Council of the legislative proposal will be required. At the same time, Member States must implement “the framework of trust and agreed technical standards” in the ‘eHealth’ network, to ensure the timely implementation of the Certificate, its interoperability and “full compliance with the protection of personal data”. The objective is to have the technical work and the political proposal completed “in the next few months.”