As part of ongoing efforts to facilitate safe travel in times of Covid-19, the European Commission proposed on Thursday to extend the use of the EU Digital Covid Certificate by a year.
First implemented on July 1, 2021, the document has enabled free movement and simplified travel across the EU allowing restriction-free access to holders.
It is reminded that more than 1.2 billion EU Digital Covid Certificates have been issued and 60 countries are connected to the system. Holders of the document, which provides proof of Covid vaccination, testing and recovery, can travel freely between member states.
In view of the Omicron variant and the ongoing pandemic, the Commission is proposing the EU Digital COVID Certificate remain effective until June 30, 2023. The initial expiration date was set for June 30 this year.
“Extending the regulation will ensure that travelers can continue using their EU Digital Covid Certificate when traveling in the EU where member states maintain certain public health measures,” the Commission said in its statement on Thursday, adding that the proposal will now go to the European Parliament and Council for final approval.
“Without this extension, we risk having many divergent national systems, and all the confusion and obstacles that this would cause,” said European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, who described the certificate as being “an effective tool”.
Besides the extension of the EU Covid pass, the Commission also proposed including high-quality laboratory-based antigen tests among the types of tests for which a test certificate can be issued; ensuring that vaccination certificates contain the correct overall number of doses administered in any EU state and not just in the member state issuing the certificate; providing that certificates may be issued to persons participating in clinical trials for vaccines against Covid-19.
In the meantime, domestic use of the EU Digital Covid Certificates is up to individual member states, however, EU members with a domestic system should ensure that the EU Digital Covid Certificate is also fully accepted for those purposes.
Lastly, the Commission called on EU national governments to harmonize their domestic validity periods with the validity period set at EU level for the purpose of travel.
“We propose to update the possibilities to make use of the certificate for travel across the EU in order to provide certainty for our citizens, as long as the public health needs persist. We also propose to bring our certificate up to date with the latest scientific developments and epidemiological changes, the need to speed up booster campaigns and to support vital ongoing clinical research, acknowledging citizens taking part in it,” said Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, adding that the certificate has facilitated safe free movement and travel in times of great uncertainty.