A pass to get travelling again9 April 2021
/ Digital Green Certificate: this is the European Commission’s proposal that will be voted on at the end of March /
Even if the numbers and pace of vaccinations are still far from those of Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom, Europe has also started inoculating its population, with the hope of being able to soon travel without strict restrictions. With some optimism, perhaps as early as next summer.
For everyone this would be the long-awaited sign of a return to normality, and a very strong boost to the world economy and above all the tourism industry, the sector most devastated by the pandemic. This is true most of all for a continent such as Europe, which is the world’s first tourist destination, and where tourism represents a very important economic sector. Looking at the European Union, it accounts for 10% of GDP and employs over 22 million people.
To try to get tourism back on track by facilitating the free movement of citizens within its member states, on 17 March the European Commission presented its proposal for the ‘Digital Green Certificate’, also called somewhat improperly in the media a ‘vaccine passport’. It will be a temporary measure – this instrument will be suspended once the WHO declares the end of the international public health emergency caused by COVID-19 – and if approved quickly and smoothly by the European Parliament and Council and adopted equally quickly by the member states, could come into force as early as mid-June, thus saving the summer holidays.
So what does this certificate involve and how will it work? Who will issue it? Will it be mandatory? Let’s try to answer these and other questions.
A Digital Green Certificate will be proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from COVID-19.
It will be free of charge and national authorities across all EU member states are in charge of issuing it (it could for example, be issued by hospitals, test centres, health authorities).
The certificate will be digital in the sense that it will be available not only in a paper version, but also in a digital version storable on mobile devices. Both will have a QR code that contains “essential information” such as date of birth, date of issuance, relevant certificates, as well as a digital signature to protect it against falsification. The information on the certificate will be displayed in the language(s) of the issuing Member State and in English.
When the certificate is checked, the QR code is scanned and the signature verified to make sure the document is authentic.
The certificates will be valid in all EU countries to facilitate free movement and can also be introduced in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland.
Importantly, it will not be a pre-condition to travel. “All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU and this applies regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not,” according to the ‘Questions and Answers – Digital Green Certificate on the European Commission website. “The same principle applies to the rights of non-EU nationals staying or residing in the EU Member States and who have the right to travel to other Member States. The Digital Green Certificate will make it easier to exercise that right, also through testing and recovery certificates.”
Another sensitive issue concerns…
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