Interim agreement reached on digital EU certificate on Covid

Parliament and the EU Council on Thursday reached an interim agreement on a digital EU certificate for Covid to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic. The document will be ...

Parliament and the EU Council on Thursday reached an interim agreement on a digital EU certificate for Covid to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic.

The document will be available in digital or paper form, and will serve as confirmation that the person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, or that they have recently received a negative test result or have recovered from the disease. In practice, these will be three separate certificates. The EU's common framework will allow for the issuance of certificates to be accepted in other EU Member States.

The regulation on digital EU certificates for Covid should be in force for 12 months, and the certificate will not be a precondition for exercising the right to free movement and will not be considered a travel document, which is extremely important in order not to discriminate against passengers.

Additional travel restrictions only if duly justified

Member States should not impose additional travel restrictions, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing "unless necessary and proportionate to the protection of public health", in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, taking into account available scientific evidence, "including epidemiological data published by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) ”. Such measures should be notified to the other Member States and to the Commission at the latest 48 hours in advance.

Vaccines

Member States must accept vaccination certificates issued in other Member States for persons who have received a vaccine approved in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). At the moment they are Pfizer-BioNTech, Modern, AstraZeneca and Janssen. Member States can decide for themselves whether to accept vaccination certificates from other Member States following national emergency approval procedures or for vaccines listed by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Data protection guarantees

Certificates will be verified to prevent fraud and forgery, and the authenticity of the electronic seals contained in the document will be verified. Certificate-based personal data cannot be stored in the Member States of destination and there will be no central database established at EU level. The list of institutions that will process and receive data will be made public so that citizens can exercise their data protection rights in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

"Although today's agreement does not fully meet Parliament's demands, it certainly marks a significant improvement in the current status quo for millions of EU citizens. The digital EU certificate on Covid will restore freedom of movement within the EU as Member States begin to lift restrictions across Europe. This agreement is the first step towards the recovery of the Schengen area", Said the Chairman of the Committee on Civil Liberties and the rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar.

Next steps

The agreed text will be sent for approval to the Committee on Civil Liberties, then to the plenary session, as well as to the Council. The Civil Liberties Committee will vote on the agreed text on 26 May 2021. If approved by the Committee, it will be submitted for adoption in plenary in June (7-10 June 2021).


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