The EU’s new “green certificate” will accelerate travel after the corona pandemic. It will reintroduce free movement, says the President of the European Commission – but will it be safe and fair?
The final proposal on what the Commission does not want to call a vaccine passport, but a green certificate, was presented in Brussels on Wednesday.
The idea is that travel-hungry EU citizens should be able to easily present their information about possible vaccinations, new tests and medical history.
“It will show whether a person has either been vaccinated or has a new negative test or has recovered from covid and thus has antibodies,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference in Brussels.
“This aims to help Member States reintroduce free movement in a safe, responsible and reliable way,” von der Leyen continues.
The passport must be available both digitally and on paper with a QR code
The certificate must contain three different types of information: if you have been vaccinated, if you have been tested and if you have previously had covid-19. It must be possible to issue both digitally and on paper with a QR code with all the necessary information that can be easily scanned.
The Commission promises to help with technical development and that the certificates will be free of charge.
The European Commission has long emphasized that the vaccine passport should not be the only thing that decides whether or not someone should be admitted to another EU country.
“The digital green certificate will not be a condition of free movement and will not discriminate in any way,” Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders promised in a press release.
“It is not a condition for being allowed to travel freely. On the other hand, people who do not have the certificate are more likely to be subjected to measures such as quarantine requirements if the member states consider it justified for health reasons “, it is stated in one of the documents produced, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
Countries that continue to require new tests or quarantine of people with valid certificates will need to report it to the European Commission and “justify their decision”.
During the pandemic, the Commission made a number of recommendations on how Member States should act with regard to borders and testing.
Now, however, you go a step further and choose to submit a binding bill, rather than just a recommendation.
In this way, it is hoped to enforce that the same rules apply everywhere, instead of the mixture of different national requirements that now prevails.
On the other hand, there is a risk that the reading will get caught up in disagreement in the European Parliament or the Council of Ministers. Not least among the member states, mistrust of new coercive measures from Brussels tends to be strong.
The European Commission still hopes that the member states will quickly give a thumbs up to what is now being proposed, in the hope of having the certificates in place by the summer. At the same time, much remains to be investigated technically.
Ygeman sees several problems with the vaccine passport
Minister for Digitalisation Anders Ygeman says that the EU’s proposal raises several questions.
– Basically, it is good that the EU is developing a framework that allows vaccination certificates to be used in all countries in the EU. I welcome that, says Anders Ygeman.
– These two other components proposed by the European Commission (if the person has recently tested negative and if the person has antibodies) raise a number of questions about both integrity, security and reliability. Therefore, we must carefully analyze the proposal on those points, he continues.
A vaccine certificate is in high demand by usually tourist-dense countries such as Greece and Spain, while France and Belgium are more opposed and speak of discrimination against citizens.
The advantage if the vaccine passport, or the green certificate, as the EU calls it, contains antibody responses is that those who are allergic or cannot take the vaccine will still be able to travel, says Anders Ygeman.
Sensitive data must be collected
The downside is the privacy-sensitive data that must be collected, which raises questions.
In Sweden, the Swedish Agency for Digital Administration (DIGG) is leading the work of developing the infrastructure for a vaccine passport. However, the government assignment does not include the parts that deal with whether a person is free from coronary infection or has antibodies.
The information about vaccination must be obtained from the national vaccination register, where everyone who has been vaccinated against covid-19 is entered. But for the latter parts there is no central register.
– We have made an extremely superficial analysis and seen that the technical architecture can probably be adapted to take in data other than vaccination data, says Mats Snäll, who is project manager of the work.
He also sees that the EU Commission’s bill is more complicated than was first thought in Sweden.
Questions reliability in pcr tests
The vaccine passport must be available in people’s mobile phones, for example via a web browser, app or digital wallets. It should also be possible to print on paper. The validation is done through a QR code.
Anders Ygeman states that a lot must be in place within three months. He does not want to answer whether the government assignment to DIGG should be broadened, but is awaiting the EU’s decision. The issue must pass through Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Eventually, “a more detailed Swedish position” will be designed.
– How should I express this diplomatically? It is a very ambitious schedule. And there are pretty strong pros and cons.
Anders Ygeman still promises that Sweden’s part will be ready by the summer.
– Sweden will prepare the vaccination certificate by the summer. If there is mandatory legislation for other parts of the EU, then of course we will have to live up to them as well.
Anders Ygeman is also skeptical about whether only a PCR test is a good basis for entry.
– How do we know the reliability of the test, how can we guarantee that it is performed in a serious clinic? Today we demand that you take a new test when you have traveled to Sweden, because we know that a decent number who have taken a test when they are healthy still develop the disease when they come to Sweden. So to just have it as a basis for entry, I think you can rightly have quite large objections to.
Facts: The green certificate
The new vaccine certificate must contain information about:
Vaccination against covid-19, test results from, for example, PCR test (test for an active infection) and if the person has had covid-19 and thus has antibodies.
The vaccine certificate is issued digitally or in paper form and contains a QR code for validation.
The certificate shall be free of charge and issued in the languages of the Member States or in English.
The vaccine certificate must also contain information about name, date of birth, date of issue, which vaccine the person took and information for identification and validation, ie the QR code.
The vaccine certificate must be valid in all EU Member States as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. According to the proposal, people who are not EU citizens should also be able to get a vaccine passport issued, as well as those who reside in the Schengen area.
According to the European Commission, the certificate should not be a requirement for travel.
The system will apply until the World Health Organization no longer classifies the covid-19 pandemic as an international health emergency.
Source: European Commission