Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday welcomed the European Commission’s legislative proposal for the launch of a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement in the European Union as the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues.
“Europe is moving forward with our proposal. The introduction of a Digital Green Certificate is on track for implementation,” Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter.
The vaccination certificate idea was initially tabled by the Greek PM in January, with the aim to enable the restart of travel and support EU economies.
Mitsotakis highlighted that the certificate will “significantly facilitate” the movement of citizens and will help boost tourism and the economies that rely heavily on it.
Also referred to as a vaccination certificate, the Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the coronavirus.
The certificate is aimed to enable restriction-free movement while crossing borders and help restart travel and tourism in the EU.
Expected to roll out before the summer, the Digital Green 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 certificates will include a limited set of information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery and a unique identifier of the certificate. This data can be checked only to confirm and verify the authenticity and validity of certificates.
According to the Commission, the Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement and will not discriminate in any way.
The Digital Green Certificate is intended to launch as a temporary measure to facilitate travel during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. It is planned to be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the Covid-19 international health emergency.
Greek tourism industry response
Once the Commission made its proposal, the Greek tourism industry was quick to welcome the decision.
- Tourism Ministry: A rational solution
“By adopting the proposal of the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the united Europe is taking a leap forward. The Green Digital Vaccination Certificate is a necessary and rational solution. With respect to personal data, but also to the fundamental right of European citizens to free movement, the vaccination certificate will make a decisive contribution to tourism’s restart, and accelerate the process of returning all of our lives to normalcy.” – Harry Theoharis, Tourism Minister
- GNTO: The certificate paves the way for safe movement in Europe
“Today’s decision of the European Commission to adopt the proposal of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the ‘Green Digital Certificate’, paves the way for safe and ‘free’ travel within the EU… By endorsing the Greek proposal, Europe is taking a decisive step forward, significantly facilitating the movement of citizens and thus contributing to the strengthening of tourism in our country.” – Dimitris Fragakis, Secretary General, Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO)
- SETE: The Digital Green Certificate can lead to a tourism restart plan
“The certificate was a very good idea that started from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. When it was tabled in January, it was criticized at both European and Greek levels. But it is impressive how fast the European Union moved in order for us to be talking today about the establishment of this certificate”. – Yiannis Retsos, President, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE)
- POX: This is a day of justification for Greece
“The announcement of the Digital Green Certificate for travel is a historic day for Europe, as all European citizens as of today are regaining the right to safe free movement within the EU.
It is also a day of justification for Greece. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was the first to show the path we should take since January 12… Greece’s contribution to the Digital Green Certificate confirms its leading role in European and global tourism.” – Grigoris Tasios, President, Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (POX)
The Digital Green Certificate was also warmly received by a number of Europe’s and the world’s aviation, tourism and travel bodies.
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, a group of more than 60 public and private travel and tourism organisations, expressed their support for the European Commission’s initiative and called to ensure swift implementation in time for summer 2021.
Likewise, Europe’s aviation sector welcomed the idea and called on the EU Council and the European Parliament to urgently approve the Commission’s proposal, and for all EU States to immediately begin preparations for their implementation.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) congratulated the Commission for its “incredible efforts” in bringing the Digital Green Certificate “to life” in such a short period of time, adding that it sees the certificate as a major step towards the recovery of travel and Tourism in Europe.