More than a year into a global COVID-19 pandemic, the virus continues to spread and citizens are still confined to their homes and countries. As the vaccination roll-out began this year, it gave a glimmer of hope to some kind of return to normalcy. Tasked by the European Council, the European Commission presented a proposal on 17 March to create an EU-wide Digital Green Certificate to facilitate free movement within the EU and restart the economy. The certificate will provide digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19.
The plan is to build an ambitious and interoperable EU-wide gateway before this summer, to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Considering the accessibility and security aspects of the certificates for all EU citizens the following key elements were highlighted:
- The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates –vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
- The certificates will be issued in a digital form or on paper. Both will have a QR code that contains necessary key information as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
- The Commission will build a gateway and support Member States to develop software that authorities can use to verify all certificate signatures across the EU. No personal data of the certificate holders passes through the gateway or is retained by the verifying Member State.
- The certificates will be available free of charge and in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.
Keep Me Posted EU is pleased that this proposal specifies that the Digital Green Certificate will be available to all citizens, free of charge, in digital or paper format. The proposal also outlines a secure and non-discriminatory approach when using the Certificate. This corresponds directly to the fundamental principles of our campaign (see pledge). Keep Me Posted EU hopes that citizens will have an effortless way of choosing between digital and paper form of the Certificate.
Meanwhile, concerns around the timeline and implementation on this ambitious and important step are being raised. It still needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.