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EU leaders clear way for the Digital COVID Certificate

June 14, 2021
Presidents of the three European Union institutions, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission Monday attended the official signing ceremony for the Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, marking the end of the legislative process.
Presidents of the three European Union institutions, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission Monday attended the official signing ceremony for the Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, marking the end of the legislative process.

BRUSSELS — Presidents of the three European Union institutions, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission Monday attended the official signing ceremony for the Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, marking the end of the legislative process.

In a joint statement, European Parliament Presidents David Sassoli, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa said that "the EU Digital COVID Certificate is a symbol of what Europe stands for."

In their statement, the officials said that they agreed on the EU Digital COVID Certificate regulation in a record time of 62 days, they worked through the legislative process, and built the technical backbone of the system, and were able to issue the EU gateway on June 1.

"The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights," they said. The certificate, signed into law Monday, will enable the European citizens travel more safely this summer, they added.

The aim of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The certificate is not mandatory for travel. However, it will facilitate travel, exempting holders from restrictions like quarantine.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate will be accessible for everyone and it will:

• cover COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery

• be free of charge and available in all EU languages

• be available in a digital and paper-based format

• be secure and include a digitally signed QR code.

Moreover, member states shall refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.

In addition, the Commission is committed to mobilizing 100 million euros under the Emergency Support Instrument to support member states in providing affordable tests.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate regulation was agreed between the institutions in 62 days. While the institutions worked through the legislative process, they also built the technical backbone of the system, the EU gateway, which went live on June 1, allowing a number of EU countries to start issuing the first digital COVID certificates.

The regulation signed on Monday will apply for 12 months. Twelve EU member countries have already begun using the system, which went live late last month, while another 16 have completed testing and are ready to implement it at any time.

The European Parliament has marked July 1 as the date upon which the certificate will need to be made available for travelers’ use in all member countries.

The European Commission approved the launch of this new digital vaccination verification tool back in May to harmonize COVID-19 entry regulations within the 27-nation bloc, thereby facilitating travel and supporting freer movement across the continent at a time that’s critical for the tourism sector.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is essentially a free mobile app that supplies on-demand either: digital proof of a person’s vaccination against COVID-19, recent negative test results or certification that they’ve previously been clinically diagnosed and recovered from the virus.

The certificate displays certain key information—including the traveler’s name, date of birth and date of issue—and produces a unique QR code that pulls up relevant documentation or linked reporting portals (from a hospital, laboratory, test center, etc.).

The European Commission website asserts that this data remains of the certificate but isn’t stored or retained by visited countries. The person’s health data, meanwhile, remains securely on file with the member state that issued the E.U. Digital Health Certificate.

In the interest of convenience, a digital version can be stored on a mobile device, or, alternatively, a paper version can be requested. EU member states have agreed upon a common design for both the electronic and printed versions to help speed recognition of the credential. Health authorities in individual member countries are responsible for issuing the certificates and making them available to citizens. — Agencies


June 14, 2021
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