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European Parliament and Council agree on Covid-19 Digital Green Certificate

The European Parliament and the European Council agreed late on Thursday to adopt the European Commission’s proposal for a Covid-19 vaccination Digital Green Certificate. The voting is expected to take place June 7-8, 2021.

According to a statement issued by the European Parliament:

  • Aim is to facilitate the right to free movement during pandemic and contribute to gradually lifting restrictions 
  • Tests should be affordable and accessible 
  • At least €100 million from the Emergency Support Instrument to purchase tests 
  • Common format for certificate and framework to be accepted by member states 

EP and Council negotiators reached on Thursday a provisional deal for an EU digital Covid certificate to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic.

The certificate will be available in either digital or paper format. It will attest that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or has a recent negative test result or has recovered from the infection. In practice, these will be three distinct certificates. A common EU framework will allow member states to issue certificates that will then be accepted in other EU countries.

The EU digital Covid Certificate regulation should be in place for 12 months. The certificate will not be a precondition to exercise the right to free movement and will not be considered a travel document.

Budgetary support for affordable and accessible testing

To make “affordable and accessible testing” more widely available, the European Commission committed to mobilise “at least €100 million” under the Emergency Support Instrument for the purchase of tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection for the purpose of issuing EU digital Covid test certificates. This should particularly benefit persons who cross borders daily or frequently to go to work or school, visit close relatives, seek medical care, or to take care of loved ones.

Negotiators agreed that, if necessary, additional funding above €100 million should be mobilised, subject to approval by the budgetary authorities.

Additional travel restrictions only if duly justified

Member states should not impose additional travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing, “unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health”. Available scientific evidence, “including epidemiological data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)” should be taken into account. Such measures should be notified to other member states and the Commission at the latest 48 hours in advance.

Vaccines

Member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen). It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates that have been authorised by other Member States following national authorisation procedures or for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.

Data protection safeguards

The certificates will be verified to prevent fraud and forgery, as will be the authenticity of the electronic seals included in the document. Personal data obtained from the certificates cannot be stored in destination member states and there will be no central database established at EU level. The list of entities that will process and receive data will be public so that citizens can exercise their data protection rights under the General Data Protection Regulation.

European Parliament

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3 comments

  1. I don’t like the birthdate so prominently displayed. So much for personal data protection laws!

  2. I think they need to think about their terminology. They use the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine as an example in the article. The certificate shown states that it is manufactured by BioNTech in Belgium. The current Greek certificate shows it as manufactured by BioNTech in Germany. Neither are correct. The vaccine was developed by BioNTech which is a company registered in Germany but they do not produce it. The vaccine is manufactured at a Pfizer factory in Belgium.

    While the format of the Greek certificate and the EU example are not identical the information contained is the same so it should be a very simple job to modify the Greek format to comply with EU rules.