On 20th May the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Regulations which establishes the EU Digital COVID Certificate (named previously Digital green certificate) which slightly change the original proposal of the Commission. The member states are obliged to issue the certificate in a commonly recognized form in favor of its citizens and their family members and those who legally resident or stay within the Schengen area by 1st July, 2021. The regulations will be force for a period of 12 months from the effective date. The official position of the EU Parliament is expected to be adopted on first reading at its plenary session on 7-10 June.
The main purpose of the Certificate is to prove that its holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has received negative test result after being tested for the virus or has recovered from the infection with COVID-19. The Certificate will be available in digital and paper format, depending on the preferences.
Nevertheless, it remains up to each member state to decide whether to introduce extra precautions like mandatory quarantine or testing despite owning a Certificate, if such precautions are proportionate and necessary to safeguard public health. In such case, the member state must inform the other member state of its decision at least 48 hours prior. The member state must also clarify the reasons for such restrictions, their scope, the start date and duration.
A phasing-in period of 6 week is being established which starts from 1st July. Within the phasing-in period citizens whose certificates were issued before 1 July will be able to travel within the EU using those certificates. Moreover, if in this period a member state is not ready to issue certificates in the new format by 1 July, it will have six weeks from that date to introduce the new EU digital COVID certificate format. That is why national certificates in other formats will be accepted during the phasing-in period.
The Digital Certificate will be issued free of charge and will:
- Certify that its holder has been vaccinated within a member state-issuer of the Certificate or in a third country but in such case only if the necessary information and enough reliable evidences of the vaccination carried out in such third country are being In such specific case (vaccination outside the EEA) a member state is not obliged to issue a certificate if the vaccine was not approved for use in its territory. The Certificate will also contain data of the number of the vaccine doses.
Each member state must decide on its own whether to issue and accept a certificate for a vaccination with a vaccine, different than the ones approved in its territory, but which has been granted marketing authorization pursuant to Directive 2001/83/EC or vaccines having received a World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing;
- Certify that its holder has resulted negative after being tested with a PCR or rapid antigen test listed in the common and updated list of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests established on the basis of Council Recommendation 2021/C 24/ 01 carried out by health professionals or by skilled testing personnel in the Member state issuing the certificate;
- Certify that its holder has recovered from COVID-19 after having resulted positive for COVID-19 but only if tested with PCR, unlike the original proposal which accepted also a positive antigen test. At later stage the Certificate may be issued after a positive rapid antigen tests, serological tests, antibodies tests or other validated methods if more scientific evidence becomes available which verifies its accuracy and if the Commission adopts delegated act in favor of such addition. This type of Certificate may be issued since day 11 of the first positive PCR until the last day of the 6th month including.
The Regulations proposed provide that the Certificate may be used in all of the member states but also in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Nevertheless, the initiative welcomes other countries to join the certification mechanism which main purpose is to ease the travelling among the states not only for tourism but also for any another purposes.