The European Parliament and the European Council on Thursday agreed to apply an urgent procedure to the legislative proposal on the Digital Green Certificate, which aims to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and support the much-needed recovery of the travel and tourism sector.
MEPs on Thursday decided to accelerate the approval of the Digital Green Certificate in order to adopt it by June. With 468 votes in favour, 203 against and 16 abstentions, MEPs supported using the urgency procedure (Rule 163), which allows for faster parliamentary scrutiny of the Commission’s proposals, while fully respecting its democratic prerogatives.
Parliament fast-tracks procedure to adopt Digital Green Certificate by June ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/iOJrWsquhJ
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) March 25, 2021
A positive decision on the matter was later reached by the European Council during its summit on Thursday, setting in motion a vote on the certificates by the end of April, facilitating the Commission’s aim to have the Digital Green Certificate operational by June.
European Council: Preparations should start
In a statement, the members of the European Council said that although restrictions on non-essential travel must be upheld for the time being, as the epidemiological situation remains serious, preparations should start on a common approach to their gradual lifting to ensure that efforts are coordinated when the epidemiological situation allows for an easing of current measures.
“Legislative and technical work on COVID-19 interoperable and non-discriminatory digital certificates, based on the Commission proposal, should be taken forward as a matter of urgency,” the Council said in its statement.
Technical work is currently taking place for the proposed Digital Green Certificate in order to ensure security, interoperability, as well as full compliance with personal data protection.
According to the Commission’s proposal, the Digital Green Certificate will include information on:
– whether a traveller has been vaccinated against Covid-19
– a Covid-19 test result
– recovery from a Covid-19 infection.
The Digital Green Certificate would be available – free of charge – in digital or paper format. It would include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate.
Said to be a temporary measure, the certificate will be also issued to third country nationals legally staying or residing in the EU and visitors who have the right to travel to other Member States. With regard to travel from outside the EU, the Commission has said third-country certificates could be acceptable if they are issued in compliance with international standards and systems which are interoperable with the EU system.
The certificate idea was initially tabled by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in January, with the aim to enable the restart of travel and support EU economies.