White smoke: Parliament and Council reach agreement on EU Digital COVID Certificate

On May 20, the European Commission hailed the provisional political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the Regulation governing the EU Digital COVID Certificate, which will be a key building block on the road to restoring safe and easy travel across the EU.

This means that the certificate (previously called the Digital Green Certificate) is well on track to be ready end of June, as planned, the Commission said. The agreement on May 20 has been reached in record time just two months after the Commission’s proposal. The negotiations on the certificate for the Commission have been led by Commissioner Didier Reynders in close cooperation with Vice-Presidents Vera Jourova and Margaritis Schinas and Commissioners Thierry Breton, Stella Kyriakides, and Ylva Johansson.

“White smoke: we have a deal on the Commission’s proposal on the EU Digital Covid Certificate,” Reynders wrote in a tweet. “I welcome today’s provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament and EU Council. We delivered on this new tool in record time to safeguard Free Movement for all citizens,” he added.

Welcoming this swift progress, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU Digital COVID Certificate will be up and running before the summer. “European citizens are looking forward to travelling again, and today’s agreement means they will be able to do so safely very soon. The EU Digital COVID Certificate is free of charge, secure and accessible to all. It will cover vaccination, test and recovery offering different options to the citizens. It fully respects citizens’ fundamental rights, including protection of personal data,” she added.

Von der Leyen stressed that all EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU. “The EU Digital COVID Certificate, available in paper or digital format, will make it easier for Europeans to travel – whether to see their families and loved ones or to get some well-deserved rest. We would like to thank the European Parliament and the Portuguese Presidency for their dedication, perseverance and immense work at record speed to find an agreement on the proposal we presented,” the Commission President said.

“Work still remains. At EU level, the system will be ready in the next few days. It is now crucial that all Member States press ahead with the roll-out of their national systems to ensure that the system can be up and running as soon as possible. This is what EU citizens rightly expect. Today’s agreement has demonstrated that with the commitment and cooperation of all, the EU Digital COVID Certificate will be available on time,” von der Leyen said.

Following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU Digital COVID Certificate will cover vaccination, test and recovery, will be available in a digital and paper-based format, depending on the choice of the recipients, and contain a digitally signed QR code, will be free of charge, be obtained easily and also available to persons vaccinated before the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation has entered into force, may also be used by Member States for national purposes, if this is provided for in national law, 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 and the Commission will also mobilise €100 million to support Member States in providing affordable tests.

The political agreement will now have to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. The Regulation will enter into force on July 1, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time.

In parallel, the Commission said it will continue to support the Member States in finalising their national solutions for the issuance and verification of EU Digital COVID Certificate, and to provide technical and financial support to Member States to on-board the gateway.

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