The European Commission has unveiled its proposal for a "Digital Green Certificate", or vaccine passport, to allow for safe and free movement within the EU during the pandemic.
The certificate will confirm that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from Covid-19 that can be used across all EU Member States, the Commission announced on Wednesday.
The certificate can also be used in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland and will “be open to initiatives being developed globally”, the Commission said in a fact sheet sent to CNN.
The proposal was unveiled as the Commission called on Member States to prepare for a “coordinated approach to a gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions” when the epidemiological situation allows, ahead of a meeting of European leaders on March 25.
“Today we are proposing a common EU approach that will lead us on the way to our goal of re-opening the EU in a safe, sustainable and predictable way. The situation with the virus in Europe is still very challenging and confidence in decisions taken are crucial. It is only through a joint approach that we can return safely to full free movement in the EU, based on transparent measures and full mutual confidence,” Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said in a press release.
The Digital Green Certificate will contain a QR code with a digital signature “to protect it against falsification. When the certificate is checked, the QR code is scanned and the signature verified,” the Commission fact sheet said.
Each issuing body (e.g. a hospital, a test centre, a health authority) has its own digital signature key and all of these are stored in a secure database in each country.
The European Commission will build a gateway where all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU.
Member States should issue vaccination certificates regardless of the type of COVID-19 vaccine, the Commission proposed. And people who have been vaccinated before the Digital Green Certificate is put in place should have the possibility to obtain the necessary vaccination certificate.
No exact end date was given for the certificates, with the Commission saying they will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the international public health emergency caused by COVID-19.
The Commission is working to ensure the certificates are compatible with systems in third countries outside the EU, it said.