European Parliament approves digital COVID certificate to restart tourism in July

All EU member states will accept certificates for a year proving vaccination, negative test result or recovery from a COVID infection come 1 July, pending formal adoption at Council level as the bloc seeks to restart tourism

The European Parliament has given the green light for the creation of a digital COVID certificate to facilitate travel within the bloc
The European Parliament has given the green light for the creation of a digital COVID certificate to facilitate travel within the bloc

MEPs on Wednesday completed legislative work on the EU digital COVID certificate package aimed at facilitating travel within the EU this summer up until 1 July 2022. 

The EP’s Plenary session approved the new EU digital COVID Certificate Regulations with 546 votes to 93 and 51 abstentions (on rules for EU citizens) and with 553 to 91 and 46 abstentions (on rules for third country nationals).

The certificate is to be issued free of charge by national authorities and be available in either digital or paper format containing a QR code. 

The document will certify that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has had a recent negative test result or has recovered from the infection. In practice, these will be three distinct certificates. A common EU framework will make certificates interoperable and verifiable across the European Union, as well as prevent fraud and forgery.

Civil Liberties Committee Chair and rapporteur Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D, Spain) comments, “Today Parliament has set the pace to restore free movement and a fully functional Schengen while we continue to fight this pandemic. 

“The EU Digital COVID Certificate will function from 1 July, and will ensure safe and coordinated travel this summer. EU states are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions, unless strictly necessary and proportionate, and it is reassuring that some are already issuing the certificate.”

Any additional restrictions must be duly justified

During the inter-institutional negotiations, MEPs had drawn a red line and secured an agreement that EU states will not be able to impose additional travel restrictions on certificate holders -such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing- “unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health”. 

Scientific evidence, “including epidemiological data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)” will have to be taken into account. The measures should be notified if possible 48 hours in advance to other member states and the Commission, and the public should be given 24 hours’ notice.

Affordable and accessible testing

EU states, according to the agreement, are encouraged to ensure that testing is affordable and widely available. At Parliament’s request, the Commission pledged to mobilise €100 million under the Emergency Support Instrument so that member states can purchase tests to issue EU digital COVID test certificates.

Vaccines

All EU countries will be obliged to accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency.

It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept certificates for vaccines authorised following national authorisation procedures or for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation for emergency use.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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