EU Covid-19 certificate: A tool to help restore the free movement of people across the European Union

Briefing 20-05-2021

The Covid-19 crisis has had a severe impact on free movement in the EU. To address this issue, on 17 March 2021 the Commission issued a proposal to establish a 'digital green certificate' – a common framework for issuing, verifying and accepting interoperable health certificates. The certificate would include proof of vaccination, Covid-19 test results, and/or information that the holder has recovered from being ill with Covid-19. The proposal has been given priority by the co-legislators with a view to seeking to reach agreement and launch the certificate before summer 2021. A temporary digital health certificate is seen as a less restrictive measure than others currently in place, such as entry bans, quarantine and business closures, and may allow for a gradual reopening of the economy. Whereas the initiative has been welcomed by some (such as the tourism and transport sectors), the certificate raises a number of concerns, in relation to its design, fundamental rights implications and overall usefulness. This briefing discusses the Commission's proposals and the initial positions of the EU co-legislators in the broader context. It analyses a number of key issues raised by the certificate, namely: its legal scope, the different types of certificates included in the overall digital green certificate, the risk of discrimination, data protection concerns, technical aspects, the timeframe and the overall added value of the certificates.