Last step: EU officially signs Digital Covid Certificate for travel

Last step: EU officially signs Digital Covid Certificate for travel
Credit: Belga

On Monday, the Regulation on the EU Digital Covid Certificate was officially signed by the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission, marking the end of the legislative process.

On 1 July 2020, the regulation will enter into force throughout the European Union. In Belgium, it will be available from Wednesday 16 June, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced last week.

"The Europe that we all know and that we all want back is a Europe without barriers. The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights – the right to free movement," said Presidents David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen in a press release.

The agreement on the EU Digital Covid Certificate Regulation was reached in a "record time" of 62 days, as the technical backbone of the system was built while the EU worked through the legislative process.

"Signed into law today, it will enable us to travel more safely this summer," they added. "Today we reaffirm together that an open Europe prevails."

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While the presidents underline that "all Europeans" have the right to free movement, also without the Certificate, it will facilitate travel by exempting holders from restrictions like quarantine.

The certificate, which will be issued in digital (QR code) and paper format, will show that a person has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, has a recent negative PCR Covid-19 test, or recently recovered after infection, indicating immunity.

On 17 March 2021, the European Commission first presented a proposal to create an EU Covid Certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the pandemic, and on 20 May, a provisional agreement was reached.

On 1 June, the technical backbone of the systems, the EU gateway, went live, allowing the verification of the security features contained in the QR codes.

Since then, 13 Member States, including Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, and the Czech Republic, have already started to issue the Certificates.

The Regulation will apply across the EU from 1 July, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for Member States that need extra time.

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