European Council this past week agreed on the European Commission proposal for Digital Green Certificates (read covid passports) that each member state would be required to issue for its citizens and residents.
European Parliament will cast its vote on April 28, 2021. The plan is to have these interoperable Digital Green Passports issued by each member state + Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, ready by mid-June.
The goal of these covid passports is to facilitate intra-bloc travel for those vaccinated, having had Covid-19 or tested negative. EU’s goal is to strike deals with out-of-bloc countries for mutual acceptance of them.
It is mainly the southern countries of the European Union such as Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal that see them crucial to partially saving their economically significant summer season.
While the bloc is introducing this Digital Green Certificate, it simultaneously states that it should not be required for travel within Schengen that is somewhat contradictory to its purpose. Most EU citizens are not fully vaccinated by this summer (likely have had their first jab).
European Council made the following five amendment proposals:
- a reference to the fact that a Digital Green Certificate is not a precondition to exercise free movement rights and it is not a travel document, in order to stress the principle of non-discrimination, in particular towards non-vaccinated persons
- a new article on the international dimension of the Digital Green Certificate, clarifying the treatment to be given to certificates issued to Union citizens and their family members as well as legally-staying/residing third-country nationals vaccinated in third countries
- the data protection provisions have been strengthened throughout the text of the main regulation, in particular on the basis of the joint opinion of the European data protection supervisor and the European data protection board
- the text now includes a transitional provision to ensure that Member States can continue using the systems currently have in place during a short period of six weeks after the entry into force of the main regulation and until the Digital Green Certificate framework is fully operational on their territory
- the text of the draft regulation contains a provision enabling Ireland and the other member states to mutually accept certificates issued to third country nationals based on reciprocity
Here’s another part of the EU Councils release:
COVID-19: Council agrees its negotiating mandate on the Digital Green Certificate
António Costa – Prime-Minister of Portugal
The current epidemiological situation remains of great concern, but when looking ahead, we need to have solutions that work across Member States. The Digital Green Certificate comes in to facilitate safe and free movement. It is most important for our citizens, for our societies and for the recovery of our economies. I welcome this first step. It shows that we are ready to engage constructively with the European Parliament and the Commission to continue to move fast on these proposals, in order to have the certificate and the system fully operational this summer.
EU ambassadors today agreed a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for a Digital Green Certificate. This certificate will facilitate safe and free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.
The legal framework of the Digital Green Certificate consists of two legislative proposals. The first concerns EU citizens and members of their families and the second concerns third-country nationals legally staying or legally residing in the territory of a member state.
According to these proposals, it will be possible to use the certificate across all EU member states. It will also be introduced in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The Digital Green Certificate will also be open to initiatives being developed globally.
Here’s the entire proposal:
EU information video:
The Digital Green Certificate aimed to ensure the freedom of movement within the EU during the pandemic.The Certificate would constitute proof that a person has been either vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or already recovered from the disease. This infoclip shows traveller presenting their Digital Green Certificate (fiction – posed scenes), people receiving the vaccine against COVID-19 and being tested.
Europe right now is an utter mess when it comes to Covid-19 test requirements. Some airlines require it when the country doesn’t for its citizens and residents, such as Finnair transporting passengers to Finland.
You can travel Air France through Paris without a PCR-RT or other tests as long as your destination doesn’t require one, but when flying on Lufthansa through Frankfurt, you need one regardless.
Understandably, the Southern European countries whose economies highly dependent on tourism are eager to save whatever they can of this 2021 season. Still, I would say that it is already getting very late.
There are many unanswered questions about this Digital Green Certificate; you need to be fully vaccinated (very few Europeans are), how long a past Covid-19 infection grants you this pass, and how many days any tests performed are valid for?
Let’s hope that we learn more before the Summer of 2021 is over!