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Published on March 18th, 2021 | by Alan Dwyer

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European Commission Proposes a Digital Green Certificate

The European Commission has proposed the creation of a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate will be proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. The certificate will include a QR code to ensure the security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply for such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate. Key elements of the regulation proposed by the Commission include:

  1. Accessible and secure certificates for all EU citizens:
  • The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates –vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
  • The certificates will be issued in a digital form or on paper. Both will have a QR code that contains necessary key information as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
  • The Commission will build a gateway and support Member States to develop software that authorities can use to verify all certificate signatures across the EU. No personal data of the certificate holders pass through the gateway or is retained by the verifying Member State.
  • The certificates will be available free of charge and in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.
  1. Non-discrimination:
  • All people – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – should benefit from a Digital Green Certificate when travelling in the EU. To prevent discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only an interoperable vaccination certificate but also COVID-19 test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
  • Same right for travellers with the Digital Green Certificate –where the Member States accept proof of vaccination to waive certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates issued under the Digital Green Certificate system. This obligation would be limited to vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation, but Member States can decide to accept other vaccines in addition.
  • Notification of other measures – 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 explain the reasons for such measures.
  1. Only essential information and secure personal data:
  • The certificates will include a limited set of information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery and a unique identifier of the certificate. This data can be checked only to confirm and verify the authenticity and validity of certificates.

The proposal for the Digital Green Certificate is that it will a temporary measure and suspended when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declare the COVID-19 pandemic to be over. The Certificate will be valid in all European countries and can be issued to all citizens, regardless of their nationality. It can 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.

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