The Digital Covid-19 Certificate Will Facilitate Intra-EU Travel
The European Parliament and Council negotiators have recently reached a preliminary deal for the EU Covid certificate that would facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic.
The certificate, which will be in use by 1 July, still needs to be formally approved by the European Parliament in the plenary session set for June 7. The aim is to facilitate safe and free movement for EU citizens 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 is intended as a support that would enable a more fluid inter-state movement, without being considered a travel document or a pre-condition for travel. The travel pass creates a uniform basis for all Member States, being considered a proof which replaces diverging national measures currently imposed on cross-border travelers.
A few characteristics of such document have already been discussed, such as:
- the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) will be in digital or paper format, and the digital form could be stored on a mobile device.
- both forms of the document will contain a QR code which allows essential information to be read and have a digital signature.
- the QR code will come from an issuing body, which could be a hospital, test center or health authority in each Member State. Each body will have a unique digital signature key and will be stored in a secure data base in each country.
- the certificate will be provided to citizens free of charge.
- it will contain the necessary information in the official language of the issuing Member State and in English.
- the EU maintains the certificates are strictly linked with the pandemic. Therefore, once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the public health emergency, the certificate system will also be suspended.
As far as discussed from a GDPR point of view, there will be no centralized EU database and storing personal data by any destination Member State which is provided by such certificate should not be allowed. Member States must implement robust safeguards in line with EU data protection rules. Moreover, all data processors of such data would be made public, thus each data subject can exercise his/her protection rights under the General Data Protection Regulation.
Being designed to prevent any form of discrimination between European citizens that intend to travel across European borders, the EU Digital COVID Certificate is an important contribution to economic recovery from the pandemic effects. Even more, the Commission is currently discussing with the World Health Organization to ensure that certificates issued in the EU can be recognized elsewhere in the world as well.