Digital Green Certificate: Time to get it up and running

After more than a year of COVID-19, there is a need for perspective, hope and a certain degree of normality. An EU-wide recognised document could help achieve all this, writes Jeroen Lenaers.
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By Jeroen Lenaers

Jeroen Lenaers is the EPP Group spokesman on Parliament’s Civil Liberties and Home Affairs Committee

28 Apr 2021

On 17 March the European Commission proposed the creation of a Digital Green (Vaccination) Certificate. With this certificate, we can make cross-border travel possible again in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner, while reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Many Member States and business sectors are trying to set up certificates by themselves. In order to avoid a myriad of solutions leading to a chaotic summer, we need this EU instrument fast.

Many of our citizens, especially those living in border regions or working in the tourism sector, heavily depend on cross-border travel.

The European Parliament adopted the certificate in an urgency procedure to make sure it can be used this summer. We must not lose time discussing it, but instead put words into practice.

The uncoordinated internal border controls during the pandemic caused societal and economic disruption. With the Digital Green Certificate, citizens will be able to visit their families, work across borders and go for holidays without having to quarantine upon their arrival or return.

This will not only restart the economy, tourism and create new jobs, but it will also help to keep the virus in check.

“With the Digital Green Certificate, citizens will be able to visit their families, work across borders and go for holidays without having to quarantine upon their arrival or return. This will not only restart the economy, tourism and create new jobs, but it will also help to keep the virus in check”

The aim of my political Group was to have one easy-to-use, non-discriminatory safe system, which can be used EU-wide and allow people to choose between a digital and a paper version.

As Europol has already detected cases of vaccine certificate fraud, this intelligent and interoperable system will make it easier to combat fraud.

The certificate will be proof that a person has received a vaccine, received a negative test result or has recovered from COVID-19 and has natural immunity.

In order to avoid discrimination between citizens, it is absolutely essential that not only the vaccine and the certificate are free of charge, but that testing will also be available, accessible and without costs.

Moreover, this certificate really needs to provide concrete added value for our citizens. Further restrictions on the right to free movement need to be avoided and citizens need to be able to rely on a clear, predictable and European framework for travel in times of pandemic.

Naturally, scientific research on the virus is constantly evolving, and the certificate needs to be flexible enough to be easily adapted in line with the latest conclusions of the scientific and medical community.

“The European Parliament adopted the certificate in an urgency procedure to make sure it can be used this summer. We must not lose time discussing it, but instead put words into practice”

The Parliament’s position makes very clear that only vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency and vaccines listed on the World Health Organization’s emergency use list are covered by the certificate.

Only authorisation via the centralised procedure provides the confidence that all Member States can rely on the safety and consistency of the batches being used for the vaccination of our citizens.

The EU COVID-19 certificate is a crucial step forward, but it is not the only important element in our fight against the virus; it is part of a host of measures necessary to stop the virus, to restart the economy and get our old lives back.

The most important tool is a fast rollout of vaccinations.

In addition, certain social distancing measures must stay in place as long as the majority of the population is not yet vaccinated.

If vaccine producers do not meet their contractual obligations, Member States must be able to restrict vaccine exports. If all over the world, countries are putting their populations first, Europe cannot be the only one to play by the rules.

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