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Coreper nod to pact on EU digital COVID certificate to help free movement

European Union Parliament building. Photo: EU

Brussels, May 21 (MNN) The Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) on Friday gave its unanimous support to a political agreement reached with the European Parliament on May 20 on the European Union digital COVID certificate to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic.

European Parliament and Council negotiators had reached on Thursday a provisional deal for the EU digital COVID certificate.

The aim is to facilitate safe and free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

The certificate, which will be in use by July 1, will be available in digital and paper format, contain a QR code and be issued free of charge. It is not a precondition for exercising free movement rights and it is not a travel document.

“The certificate is an important step towards a more normal, freer and safer life during the pandemic. It will facilitate the free movement of all Europeans, starting this summer. And it shows once again that the EU delivers. Member states will need to remain vigilant with regard to the epidemiological situation so that movement in the EU is safe, but at the same time our societies and economies can gradually recover,” Portugal Prime Minister António Costa said.

Affordable and accessible tests

Member states are encouraged to ensure that tests are affordable and widely available.

100 million euro will be available for the purchase of tests under the Emergency Support Instrument.

Additional funding above 100 million euro could be mobilised, subject to approval by the budgetary authorities.

Travel restrictions

It remains up to national governments to decide whether travellers with a certificate have to quarantine or get tested.

Member states should refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions, such as testing or quarantine, unless they are proportionate and necessary to safeguard public health.

If they decide to introduce travel restrictions, member states must inform the other member states and the Commission, if possible 48 hours in advance.

They must clarify the reasons for such restrictions, their scope and the start date and duration.

This information should be published 24 hours before the measures come into effect.

Phasing-in period

For a period of six weeks, citizens whose certificates were issued before July 1 will be able to travel within the EU using those certificates.

If a member state is not ready to issue certificates in the new format by July 1, it will have six weeks from that date to introduce the new EU digital COVID certificate format. National certificates in other formats will be accepted during the phasing-in period.

Types of vaccine

When a person presents a vaccination certificate for one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), member states will be obliged to accept it for the purpose of facilitating freedom of movement. The proposed legislation gives member states the option to accept vaccination certificates issued for vaccines which have been authorised nationally or have completed the WHO (World Health Organisation) emergency listing process.

Types of test

Only PCR and rapid antigen tests will be accepted as proof of a negative test result.

Only PCR tests will be accepted as proof of recovery. Rapid antigen tests, serological tests or other validated methods might be accepted at a later stage if scientific evidence becomes available.

Data protection

There will be no centralised EU database.

Member states must implement robust safeguards in line with EU data protection rules.

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