Despite initial doubts from governments such as France or Belgium, the Twenty-seven have managed to close this Wednesday a pre-agreement on the digital green vaccination certificate , aimed at facilitating intra-European travel starting this summer and boosting mobility in the EU, alibi during last year due to the continuous restrictions against covid19 .
To overcome the reluctance of some capitals, the approved document limits the initial ambition of the European Commission by ensuring greater room for maneuver for governments to continue applying quarantines and other restrictions “for health reasons”, even to people with the certificate.
The next step will be the negotiation of the text with the European Parliament that will pronounce itself during the last week of April. If the calendar is maintained, it means that the vaccination certificate could be in place in June , as Brussels has set as a target.
“The current epidemiological situation continues to be of great concern but we must look forward and we need solutions that work in all Member States”, explained the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa , whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
The draft regulation confirms that the document will not be a precondition to exercise the right to free movement in the European Union and to use cross-border transport services such as airplanes, trains, ships or buses because it is “not a travel document” nor is it a passport.
As planned, it will not only cover people who have received the antidote (those who have already been vaccinated before the entry into force may also request it).
To avoid discrimination against unvaccinated people, it will also certify those who travel with a negative PCR test or those who are immunized.because they have recovered from the disease. However, Member States reserve “the right to limit freedom of movement for health reasons”.
The text includes a six-week transitional provision to ensure that Member States can continue to use the systems they currently have after the regulation enters into force and until the certificate is fully operational on their territory.
The Twenty-seven have also introduced a new article on the international dimension that clarifies the treatment to be given to certificates issued to European citizens and their families as well as to third-country nationals who have legal residence in the EU or who have been vaccinated in third countries. For example, the text highlights that they may also be issued to nationals or residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.
According to the provisional agreement, the certificate will be free, will be issued in digital or paper format , will contain a QR code with all the necessary data, and will be in English and in the official language of the country that issues it.
In addition, it will have a validity period of one year – initially it was proposed that it last until the World Health Organization declared the end of the pandemic – although the European Commission will have to prepare a report on the impact of the measure three months before to complete the application by explaining whether it has facilitated free movement.
Accepted vaccines will be those authorized by the European Medicines Agency, until now BioNTech / Pfzier, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen. According to the Portuguese presidency, the agreement reinforces the provisions on data protection, one of the requirements of the European Parliament.