EU leaders want 'Digital Green Certificates' ready by summer
EU ambassadors have underlined their commitment to have "Digital Green Certificate" vaccine passports ready by mid-June.
The EU-wide certificates will use QR codes to provide digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.
After several meetings at working party level, the European Council agreed a common position with a view to start negotiations with the European Parliament.
This follows proposals put forward by the European Commission last month to start legislative and technical work on the certificates.
According to the proposals, it will be possible to use the certificate across all EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The certificate will also be open to initiatives being developed globally.
The Council agreed certificates should not be a precondition to exercise free movement rights or travel documents, so as to prevent discrimination against people who have not had the jab.
Data protection provisions have been strengthened throughout the text of the main regulation, in particular on the basis of the joint opinion of the European data protection supervisor and the European data protection board.
The European Parliament is expected to adopt its position at its plenary on 26-29 April with negotiations starting soon afterwards.
WHY IT MATTERS
Th Digital Green Certificate is intended to facilitate safe and free movement in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Denmark recently launched a ‘Coronvas’ vaccine passport hosted on its national digital health portal, sundhed.dk, to help non-essential businesses reopen.
Sweden, Estonia and Iceland are also developing their own vaccine passports, while France is taking part in a month-long trial of a vaccine passport for air travel.
Meanwhile in the UK equalities watchdog the Equality and Human Rights Commission has informed the government that vaccine certificates may be unlawful and lead to discrimination.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against counterfeit vaccine passports and vaccines being sold on the dark web.
ON THE RECORD
Prime minister of Portugal, António Costa, said: “The Digital Green Certificate comes in to facilitate safe and free movement. It is most important for our citizens, for our societies and for the recovery of our economies.
“I welcome this first step. It shows that we are ready to engage constructively with the European Parliament and the Commission to continue to move fast on these proposals, in order to have the certificate and the system fully operational this summer.”
EU commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, said on Twitter: “I welcome the adoption of the EU Council’s mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament, to adopt the Digital Green Certificate before the summer.
“Today’s Coreper [Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the EU] agreement is a key step forward and shows determination to facilitate free movement through a common instrument.”