On March 17, the European Commission put forward a proposal to issue a Digital Green Certificate, the main objective of which is to ensure the free movement of citizens inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of the Digital Green Certificate would ease travel inside EU territory, as it is expected to lift movement restrictions in an organised and coordinated way, as soon as all EU Member States accept the certificate.
One of the key characteristics of the tool is its non-discriminatory nature, as both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals will have the right to take advantage of the certificate. The Digital Green Certificate will serve as a reliable proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or as an indication that a person received a negative test or recovered from COVID-19. In addition to it, not only EU citizens will benefit from the certificate, but also travellers from non-EU countries staying or residing legally on the territory of any EU country. The holders of the certificate will be freed from movement restrictions, connected to the current pandemic outbreak.
The certificate will be issued in national language and English. The Digital Green Certificate is planned to be issued free of charge and available in both digital and paper formats. The QR code will be included to prove the authenticity of the document. The QR code will contain key personal data and digital signature.
Regarding the safety of personal data, the Commission assures that the certificate will contain basic information including name, date of birth, date of issuance, information concerning the vaccine/test/recovery, as well as a unique certificate number. The data will be used exclusively for checking the validity of certificates.
How will the certificate function?
- The QR code and the digital signature will be scanned through a special software
- Each issuing authority will get access to a digital signature key that is stored in a special secure database
- The European Commission will organise a gateway allowing to verify all certificates in any EU country
How will the certificate become available for citizens?
National establishments will be responsible for the distribution of the certificate. It might be issued by health authorities, test centres or hospitals. The citizens will have access to a digital version of the certificate on their mobile devices, however, the paper version might be requested as well.
What is planned next?
The next steps of the European Commission regarding the introduction of certificates will include organising a digital infrastructure aimed at facilitation of the authentication of the Digital Green Certificates.
European Commission. 2021. COVID-19: Digital green certificates. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/safe-covid-19-vaccines-europeans/covid-19-digital-green-certificates_en [Accessed 8 April 2021].
European Commission. 2021. Coronavirus: Commission proposes a Digital Green Certificate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_1181 [Accessed 8 April 2021].
European Commission. 2021. Questions and Answers – Digital Green Certificate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_21_1187 [Accessed 8 April 2021].
Written by Olena Khomiakova, Schuman Communication Trainee Terminology Coordination Unit. Currently she is enrolled as a Master student in Learning and Communications in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.