The European Commission has made clear the importance of a restart to travel within the EU and beyond, and has today put forward a proposal to help do so with what a Digital Green Certificate.
As Von der Leyen highlighted at the start of the month, the certificate would show proof that a person has been vaccinated, results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet and information on Covid-19 recovery. The certificate is hoped to create ‘a common path to safe and sustained re-opening’. However, the Commission must take into consideration EU governments’ doubts and very disparate vaccination strategies, technical complications, privacy concerns and moral dilemmas.
So here is everything you need to know about the proposal Digital Green Certificate.
The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 1, 2021
The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.
1. What is the Digital Green Certificate?
The aim of the Digital Green Certificate is to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a digital proof (or paper format) that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from Covid-19. The Digital Green Certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and will be free of charge, written in both the national language and English.
2. How will it help make travel easier?
The Digital Green Certificate will help ensure that travel restrictions currently in place can be lifted in a coordinated manner across the EU. When travelling, every EU citizen or third-country national legally staying or residing in the EU, who holds a Digital Green Certificate, should be exempted from free movement restrictions in the same way as citizens from the visited Member State. If a Member State continues to require holders of a Digital Green Certificate to quarantine or test, it must notify the Commission and all other Member States and justify this decision.
3. How to obtain a Digital Green Certificate?
National authorities will be in charge of issuing the certificate, for example it could be issued by hospitals, test centres or health authorities. The digital version can be stored on your mobile device, or you can request a paper version, and both will have a QR code that contains essential information and a digital seal to ensure the certificate is authentic.
4. How will it work?
The Digital Green Certificate will work in the following way:
- Each Digital Green Certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect it against falsification.
- When the certificate is checked, the QR code is scanned and the signature verified.
- Each issuing body (e.g. a hospital, a test centre, a health authority) has its own digital signature key. All of these are stored in a secure database in each country.
- The European Commission will build a gateway. Through this gateway, all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU. The personal data encoded in the certificate does not pass through the gateway, as this is not necessary to verify the digital signature. The Commission will also help Member States to develop a software that authorities can use to check the QR codes.
5. What data does the certificate include?
The Digital Green Certificate contains necessary key information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery and a unique identifier. The certificates will only include a limited set of information that is necessary. This cannot be retained by visited countries. For verification purposes, only the validity and authenticity of the certificate is checked by verifying who issued and signed it. All health data remains with the Member State that issued a Digital Green Certificate.
6. What if I don’t have the vaccine, and does it matter which one?
Citizens who are not yet vaccinated will still be able to travel to another EU country. The Digital Green Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU. The Digital Green Certificate can also prove the results of testing, which is often required under applicable public health restrictions.
The Digital Green Certificate is an opportunity for Member States to adjust the existing restrictions on public health grounds. The Commission expects them to take this proof of people’s Covid-19 status into account to facilitate travel. Vaccination certificates will be issued to a vaccinated person for any Covid-19 vaccine. When it comes to waiving free movement restrictions, Member States will have to accept vaccination certificates for vaccines which received EU marketing authorisation. Member States may decide to extend this also to EU travellers that received another vaccine.
The certificate should be usable from the beginning of the summer. And summer starts on 1 JuneMargaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President
In mid March:
- By the EU – The Commission presented a legal proposal on Digital Green Certificates. The European Parliament and EU Member States will need to approve the proposal.
- By the Member States – Prepare for the logistical roll-out of the certificates (issuance and verification).
- By the EU – The Commission will set up a digital infrastructure that would facilitate the authentication of the Digital Green Certificates.
- By the Member States – Introduce the necessary changes in their national health records systems.