The EP voted COVID-19 certificates to make traveling easier - from July 1
The European Parliament passed two new regulations on certificates facilitating free travel in EU countries from July 1 for citizens of EU countries and third countries, Parliament informed
The regulation on EU COVID-19 certificates for EU citizens was supported by 546 MEPs, 93 against and 51 abstained. On the other hand, 553 MEPs were in favor of the regulation on COVID-19 certificates for third-country nationals, 91 were against and 46 abstained. In order for the regulations to come into force, they must be adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal.
"The EU COVID digital certificate will be operational from July 1 and will ensure safe and coordinated travel this summer. EU countries are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions unless they are absolutely necessary and proportionate, and it is reassuring that some countries have already started issuing a certificate," said the chairman of the Civil Liberties Committee, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D, Spain).
From July 1, all EU countries will accept COVID-19 certificates that contain information about vaccination, negative test results or passing COVID-19. Vaccinated certificates will be valid for one year.
Certificates are to be issued free of charge by national authorities. They will be available in digital or paper format, both with a QR code. Certificates will certify that holders are immunized against COVID-19, tested negative, or have had the disease. In practice, therefore, these will be three separate documents. Thanks to the common EU framework law, these certificates will be verifiable, will be recognized in all Member States throughout the Union and will be secured against counterfeiting.
The certificate system will enter into force on July 1, 2021 for 12 months. Certificates will not be a condition of free movement and will not be considered travel documents.
During inter-institutional talks, MEPs negotiated an agreement under which member states will not impose additional travel restrictions on certificate holders, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing. They will only be allowed to introduce additional restrictions if they are necessary and proportionate to the objective of protecting public health. Scientific evidence, including epidemiological data published by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, will then have to be taken into account. A Member State should inform other countries and the European Commission 48 hours in advance of introducing additional restrictions. The general public should be informed 24 hours in advance.
The EP is encouraged by EU Member States to ensure that tests are widely available. At the request of Parliament, the Commission committed itself to providing EUR 100 million from the Emergency Support Facility for this purpose. In this way, Member States will be able to source tests to issue EU COVID-19 certificates.
All member states are obliged to honor vaccine acceptance certificates issued in other member states and approved by the European Medicines Agency. Each country will decide whether it will also accept vaccination certificates based on national vaccine approval procedures. States also decide to accept vaccination certificates for which the World Health Organization has issued emergency approval.