The European Commission has laid out proposals to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate “safe free movement” within the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Digital Green Certificate will act as proof a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from having had the virus.
It will record if a person has received a Covid-19 vaccine, and their results of PCR, NAAT and antigen tests. The EC said it was “non-discriminatory” because it was available both to those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
It will be available free, and in English, in digital or paper format and include a QR code to authenticate the certificate. It will be valid in all EU member states and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, as well as non-EU citizens living in the bloc.
The EC insisted the measure was temporary and will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency.
It said it will build a “gateway” to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support member states in implementing certificates – but insisted “no personal data” will pass through or be held by member states.
Member states will remain responsible for deciding which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers in their countries, but will have to apply waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate.
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, added: “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.”
A statement from the EC noted that: “To be ready before the summer, this proposal needs a swift adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.”
The Digital Green Certificate was at the centre of a separate statement on the European Union’s plan to reopen the continent this year laid out ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on March 25.
In the tourism and hospitality sector, the commission proposes a voluntary ‘sanitary seal’ to be used by establishments and says this will also be “deliverable will be available” by the summer.
The EC also vowed to promote EU cultural heritage sites and cultural routes, as well as cultural events and festivals, through a social media campaign on sustainable cultural tourism and promote travel by rail, particularly to young people.