By Uglobal Staff
The EU has plans to officially launch its highly anticipated vaccine certificate this June with aims to facilitate the movement of people within its borders during the peak summer tourism period.
EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said the proposed Digital Green Certificates would help determine whether a person has received an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine, or if they had tested positive in the recent past, or if they have recovered enough to now have immunity and be fit for travel.
"The proposal regulates not only the insurance verification and acceptance of an interoperable vaccination certificate but also a test certificate and certificate for a person who has recovered from COVID-19," Reynders said.
About the timeframe when this EU certificate is expected to be launched, he said: “We want to be ready before the summer...we want to be able to start with pilot project in the beginning of June and to be able to establish the entire system at the end of June.”
He said the EU citizens would have the right to ask for either a digital or a paper certificate.
VALIDITY OF VACCINE CERTIFICATES
Reynders said the final decision on the validity period of the certificates would be left to individual EU states.
“Our proposal does not mention a minimum validity period for the test and vaccine certificate. For recovery certificates, the validity is maximum 180 days.
“We understand that there is no agreement yet on how long test results are valid or on the lengths of immunity awarded by the vaccines. So, this is left to the member states of the destination to decide,” he said.
He indicated that people who had already tested positive and recovered fully from COVID-19 would be able to travel within EU via the certificate even if they did not get the vaccine jabs. He cited the CDC findings which state that people who have recovered from the virus in the last 180 days could be considered as equivalent of a negative test. The EU certificates for such COVID survivors would come in handy at times of travel due to the fact that some continue to test positive for several days despite recovery.
He revealed that the proposal insists that the issuance of Digital Green Certificates should be free of charge.
About whether EU citizens would be able to get the certificates if they were vaccinated outside of the EU, he said: “EU citizens and their families who have been vaccinated in a third country with a vaccine used in the EU can receive EU Digital Green Certificate if they provide reliable proof of vaccination to the member state.”
‘NOT A VACCINE PASSPORT’
He insisted that the EU certificate must not be used to limit freedoms of movement rights and should not hinder those non-vaccinated travelers who were continuing to meet testing and quarantine requirements.
“It's not a vaccination passport. The main argument is that there is no discrimination, it must be possible without a vaccine, without recovery but with just a test to travel like it’s possible to do for the moment on the request of many member states,” he added.
The EU Commissioner gave assurances to the committee that all steps were being taken to ensure that the health data of the individuals would have the highest protections. He said apart from coming up with robust technical solutions to ensure data integrity and security, there are plans to immediately delete the data of all certificate holders once the WHO declares an end to the global pandemic.
On March 1, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had announced that the EU was planning a vaccination certificate program the aim of which would be to gradually enable EU citizens “to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”
China has launched its own vaccine certificate, which is basically an encrypted QR code on the social media app WeChat, in March, which the EU does not recognize so far.
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