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What Europe’s Digital Green Certificate Will Mean for Safe Travel

Passport and vaccination certificate
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Europe has taken the first step towards introducing a Digital Green Certificate in time for this summer’s peak tourist season. Proposed by the European Commission, the certificate will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated and has received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

The plan is for it to be available free of charge, in digital or paper format, and to include a QR code to ensure the certificate’s security and authenticity.

The Commission says it will “build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU”, and will support member states with the certificate’s technical implementation. Member states will retain responsibility for deciding which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers, but they will be required to “apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate”.

According to the Commission, in addition to the 27 EU countries, the certificate will also be “open” for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. “The Digital Green Certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. It should also be issued to non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to other member states.”

In order for the certificate to be ready for use by summer, the proposal will need “swift adoption” by the European Parliament and the European Council.

Intended to be a temporary measure, the Digital Green Certificate will be suspended “once the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency”.

Announcing details of the proposal, 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.”

Added commissioner for justice Didier Reynders, “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.”

Measures to boost confidence in travel this year are also being introduced at national and regional levels throughout the EU. In Murcia, tourists travelling to the region are being offered free insurance coverage for health, transport and accommodation costs, to protect them financially if they become infected with COVID-19 during their holidays. The regional government has also reinforced its commitment to safe tourism, while Corvera Airport Murcia has been recognised internationally for its pacesetting health measures.

Latest information about coronavirus measures and travel restrictions in member states is available on the Re-open EU platform.

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