European Parliament Supports EU Covid-19 Certificate

European Parliament President David Sassoli at the EU Summit. Photo: European Parliament (file photo)
European Parliament President David Sassoli at the EU Summit. Photo: European Parliament (file photo)

The European Parliament supports use of the certificates for 12 months. 

The EU Member States have imposed travel restrictions in order to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The European Parliament (EP) supports the creation of an EU Covid-19 certificate to ensure people can travel within Europe without having to quarantine or undergo more tests, nor face discrimination if they have not been vaccinated.

The Members of European Parliament (MEPs) voted on the European Parliament’s position on 29 April and started negotiations with the Council on 3 May, with a view to reaching an agreement ahead of the summer tourist season.

To restore freedom of movement within the European Union, EU governments asked the European Commission to draft a proposal that would allow travel with a reduced risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus. A uniform certificate should become commonly accepted as proof in all EU Member States and replace diverging national measures currently imposed on cross-border travellers.

However, according to the European Parliament, no one will be obliged to use the EU certificate, which will be called an “EU Covid-19 certificate”. Earlier, the European Commission had proposed to call it the “Digital Green Certificate”. 

The EU Covid-19 certificate would not be a travel document nor a precondition for travel. It aims to make it easier for people to cross European internal borders without facing additional travel restrictions (such as quarantine) if a person has been vaccinated, has a recent negative test or if they recently recovered from Covid-19.

The EU Covid-19 certificate would attest to a person’s vaccination status or a recent negative Covid-19 test result or proof that a person recently recovered from Covid-19. The certificate would be free of charge. MEPs want Covid-19 testing to also be free and easily accessible in all Member States.

The EU Covid-19 certificate would store proof of any vaccine that has been approved by the European Medicines Agency. The European Parliament says Member States should also accept entry based on certificates of any other vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

The European Parliament supports use of the certificates for 12 months. The EP says that any proposal to extend their use beyond 12 months would be based on a new legislative proposal from the Commission and after a thorough assessment of the impact on free movement, fundamental rights and non-discrimination as well as the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

The certificate would be available in digital and paper format. There will be no central EU database containing medical data. Everyone’s rights over their data would be protected in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Rules. 

The EP is asking to make it possible to verify data offline. The issuer (country A) should not be informed when a certificate holder presents a certificate for verification (country B). A separate certificate should be issued for each vaccination, test or recovery and no history of previous certificates should be stored on the certificate itself.

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Rakesh Raman