July 29, 2021

EU launches vaccine passport for safe travel among member countries

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The EU Vaccine Passport — also called the standardized Covid-19 certificate — is now being used throughout the EU and in the Schengen starting July 1. The main goal of the passport is to facilitate travel in the face of the pandemic, especially in the summer holiday season. How exactly they will work, we explain.

The aim of this document to be presented in paper format or via a QR code available on the TousAntiCovid application should make it possible to facilitate travel in Europe thanks to mutual recognition of the 27 member countries of the European Union.

This standardized certificate is free. It takes the form of a document with a QR code to be presented in digital form or on a sheet of paper during checks in member countries of the European Union, regardless of the means of transport used: train, plane car. This document makes it possible to prove “that a person has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid-19 or has received negative results in their test”. The date of vaccination and the type of dose received are also specified.

The subject of many debates

Supposed to allow European citizens freedom of movement between member states, the vaccine passport is the subject of numerous legal debates between countries. “It is a free and temporary instrument, which is not intended to last over time once the health crisis is over,” however said the European Commission.

Some states are concerned about the protection of user data. A fear that Thierry Breton, European Commissioner is trying to allay: “The protection and confidentiality of health data within the meaning of the GDPR will of course be guaranteed.”

Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice also specified that the desire to introduce this certificate for other activities such as access to restaurants, theaters, cinemas, or performance halls, will rest with the member countries.

Europe will work “in close collaboration with the States to identify the technical solutions which will allow this solution to be put in place quickly to ensure that the authenticity of these certificates can be quickly proven throughout the Union European and allow mutual recognition of the certificate throughout the EU”.

A collaboration between the European Commission and the WHO – World Health Organization – is underway to have the EU vaccine passport recognized all over the world.

What about non-EU countries?

It is not only those living in the EU who can obtain covid certificates. Citizens of third countries, such as Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus, also have the right to do so. But they will first need to enter the EU legally. At the border, they will have to provide proof of vaccination or test received at home. It is up to each EU or Schengen state to decide which confirmations to recognize.

There is also another option. EU regulations require recognition of digital certificates issued by third countries. To do this, the system of their issuance must be compatible with the European one. The European Commission checks this compatibility.