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What is the digital green certificate proposed by the European Commission?

The digital green certificate proposed by the European Commission on 17 March 2021 is the first introduction in the EU of a travel document with the purpose to reopen borders in a safe way after the COVID pandemic. The introduction of this document is an attempt to boost the economies of the European states and the tourism sector in particular, which has been severely affected by the pandemic within the last 12 months.

According to the EU Commission’s representatives, the digital green certificate will be able to prove that the holder has been vaccinated against Covid. Furthermore, the European Commission wants this certificate to store some other basic information, such as the fact that the certificate holder received a negative result on the SARS-CoV-2 virus test, or that he was cured.

The information on the digital certificate will have the possibility to be verified in any Member State of the European Union.

Thus, a person who has been vaccinated in one Member State will be recognized in another Member State of the European Union as “immunized” if he holds the digital green certificate proposed by the European Commission. This will be only a proof of vaccination against Covid-19, and it could facilitate travel, both for tourism and business purposes between EU Member States.

The digital green certificate proposed will be available free of charge and will be a temporary measure, according to EC representatives

The certificate will include a limited set of information, such as name, date of birth, date of issue, relevant information about the vaccine the person took, or on his test or cure, and a unique identifier. This data will only be verified to confirm and attest the authenticity and validity of the document.

The certificates will be available free of charge, both in digital and physical format, and will include a QR code to guarantee their authenticity and security.

Representatives of the European Commission said that this system could be a temporary measure. The measure will be suspended as soon as things settle, and the World Health Organization declares an end to the international state of health emergency. The certificates will be available free of charge, in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State, as well as in English.

How will personal data be managed?

Officials say that the personal data of the holders of certificates will not be transmitted to the portal and will not be kept by any Member State carrying out the verifications.

Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, said the certificate “will not be a discriminatory document, but one that will certify that a person is healthy when traveling, so that everyone feels safe.” “The intention is to unify the formats, to be easily verified by any of the Member States, so when someone presents the certificate, authorities can be able to easily verify its authenticity, in order to fight the fraud phenomena that has appeared recently”, added Adina Vălean.

Every EU citizen will have the right to benefit from the digital green certificate when traveling in the European Union, whether they have been vaccinated or not. In order to avoid discrimination against people who have not been vaccinated, the Commission also proposes certificates showing results of testing against Covid, as well as for those who have been cured.

The digital green certificate proposed by the EC will be available in all EU Member States, but Israel, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland could also be able to use these certificates. Green electronic certificates should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. Member States will be required to accept the vaccination certificate if the shot was taken with a vaccine authorized by the European Medicines Agency. In the case of vaccination with another product, it is up to each state whether to recognize the vaccine or not.

Applicable as of 1 June 2021

These vaccination certificates would be valid throughout the pandemic, throughout the European Union. On the other hand, China will allow access to the country only to foreigners who are vaccinated with Chinese serum.

As for the proposed date for the entry into force of the digital green certificate in the European Union, this is 1 June 2021.

The proposal of the authorities from Vienna is to introduce an application on mobile phones, which provides a category for each traveler: vaccinated, with negative Covid-19 test or cured after the disease.

Member States will implement the trusted framework and technical standards, agreed in the eHealth network, to ensure the timely implementation of green electronic certificates, their interoperability and full compliance with the protection of personal data. The aim is for the technical work and the proposal to be completed in the coming months.

The issuance of this certificate will not lift the restrictions and will not oblige the Member States of the European Union to accept only vaccinated travelers if they decide otherwise. If a person has not been vaccinated against the virus, the document will only store information about the test.

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