The European Commission is targeting entry into force at the end of June of the health certificate intended to facilitate free movement in the European Union with a view to the summer holidays, Commissioner Didier Reynders told MEPs on Tuesday. “We want to be able to start with this system at the end of June,” the official told the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
Parliament is counting on the adoption of the draft regulation at its plenary session on 7-10 June, following negotiations with the Member States on this “green certificate” proposed by the Commission, intended to facilitate travel for Europeans who can thus certify that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, have passed a negative PCR test or are immune after being infected. And consequently avoid restrictive measures (quarantine, test) in the country of destination.
Top start in June
From the point of view of technical implementation, “we want to be able to start with a pilot project at the beginning of June,” said the Belgian commissioner, responsible for free movement in the EU. The regulation sets a harmonized European framework, while some countries of the EU or the Schengen area have already started to set up this type of certificate.
The European Commissioner recalled that this certificate, which would be available in digital or on paper, would be temporary, until the World Health Organization declares the epidemic over, while some MEPs demanded a fixed deadline.
Risk of interference?
He also underlined that the uses of this certificate for reasons other than freedom of movement were the responsibility of the Member States, but that they should do so within a legal framework respecting European law, in particular as regards personal data.
And if this certificate must be free for all European citizens, Didier Reynders judged that to impose free or a ceiling price for the tests, as requested in particular by the MEP Sophie in’t Veld (Renew), would be an interference within the competence of the Member States in matters of public health.
Regarding the protection of personal data, a matter of concern among MEPs, he said the draft certificate contained “a limited set of information”, “smaller” than for the WHO vaccination certificate. “The technical solution envisaged (…) will not require the creation of a centralized database at EU level”, he stressed.
He finally specified that the member countries would only be obliged to accept within the framework of these certificates the vaccines authorized at European level, but that they would be free to accept others.