The European Commission has issued proposals for a digital green certificate designed to facilitate safe free movement inside the European Union during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The document would be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus.
When issued, the certificate will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format.
It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate.
The commission is expected to build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support member states in the technical implementation of certificates.
States, however, remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a certificate.
European Commission vice-president for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “The digital green certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU.
“This is a good message in support of recovery.
“Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection.
“And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”
To be ready “before summer”, the certificate will be valid in all EU member states and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
It will be offered to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality.
Commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, said: “With the digital green certificate, we are taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer.
“The digital green certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement, and it will not discriminate in any way.
“A common EU-approach will not only help us to gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation.
“It is also a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on our European values like data protection.”
World Travel & Tourism Council, Gloria Guevara, warmly welcomed the move.
She said: “We see the digital green certificate as a major step towards the recovery of tourism in the region.
“The introduction of the new certificate to travel could see member states welcoming travellers with proof of vaccination, a negative test or a positive antibody test, in time for the busy summer period.
“This would provide a significant and much needed boost to economies and save millions of jobs and livelihoods.”
She added: “We would like to congratulate the European Commission for its incredible efforts in bringing this to life in such a short period of time.
“The onus is now on member states and the European Parliament to adopt this new initiative, and we urge them to take the necessary steps to implement it as a matter of urgency.
“The proposed digital green certificate, along with enhanced health and hygiene measures and mandatory mask wearing, will provide the reassurance consumers need to book their trips and ensure the return of safe international travel.”
Image: Alexandros Michailidis - Alamy Stock Photo