Regulation (EU) 2021/953 on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates (EU Digital COVID Certificate) to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Series Details L 211, Pages 1-22
Publication Date 15/06/2021
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Regulation (EU) 2021/953 - formally adopted by the European Union on 14 June 2021 - establishing a common framework for an EU Digital COVID Certificate covering vaccination, testing and recovery in the context of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This is a text with EEA relevance.

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Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/1475 sought to ensure increased coordination among Member States considering the adoption of measures restricting free movement on grounds of public health in the context of the pandemic. The Recommendation was later amended in view of a very high level of community transmission across the European Union (EU), possibly linked to the increased transmissibility of the new variants of concern. Travellers arriving from risk areas were subject to reinforced public health measures. However, the absence of standardised and secured formats resulted in travellers experiencing problems in the acceptance of their documents, as well as reports of fraud.

This Regulation establishes a common approach to issuing, verifying and accepting certificates to facilitate free movement within the European Union. The aim is to define a technical framework by June 2021, to ensure security, interoperability, as well as full compliance with personal data protection. It is also to allow the possibility to extend to compatible certificates issued in third countries. Regulation (EU) 2021/954 was adopted to address the situation of non-EU nationals residing in Member States or Schengen Associated States and visitors with the right to travel to other Member States. Both Regulations are based on technical work developed by the eHealth Network and the Health Security Committee.

The initiative was initially named Digital Green Certificate and colloquially known as the COVID vaccine passport.

The proposal was put forward by the European Commission on 17 March 2021 alongside a Communication on a coordinated approach to a lifting of restrictions. The Council of the European Union adopted a general approach on it on 14 April. The plenary of the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on 29 April. An informal agreement between the co-legislators on a compromise text was reached on 20 May.

The European Commission announced on 1 June 2021 the activation of the technical backbone of the EU system allowing for the certificates. The Act was signed by the co-legislators on 14 June 2021 and published in the Official Journal on 15 June 2021.

On 28 June, the European Commission adopted Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/1073 laying down technical specifications and rules for the implementation of the trust framework for the EU Digital COVID Certificate. It was published in the Official Journal on 30 June. This is also a text with EEA relevance.

The Certificate formally entered into force on 1 July 2021.

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Commentary and Analysis
Open Access Government: News, 16/03/2021: Preventing fraud in vaccine passports
BBC News: Explainers, 17/03/2021: 'Vaccine passports': Will I need one for going out, work and travel?
IATA: Press Release, 17/03/2021: Europe’s Aviation Sector Welcomes Digital Green Certificate Proposal but Urges Wider Restart Plan
EurActiv, 18/03/2021: Six things to know about EU certificates meant to save the summer
EPRS: At a Glance, March 2021: Digital green certificate
France24: #Tech24, 29/03/2021: Covid-19: A closer look at the EU's Digital Green Certificate
EPRS: Briefing, May 2021: EU Covid-19 certificate: A tool to help restore the free movement of people across the European Union
Euronews, 09/06/2021: Digital green pass, vaccine passport, EUDCC: What is it and who can use it?
EUObserver: Analysis, 09/06/2021: The EU's Covid-19 certificate - how it will work?
Open Access Government: News, 14/06/2021: European Commission launches EU Digital COVID Certificate
Journal of Public Health: Correspondence, 17/06/2021: Advancing strategic policy on European Union digital COVID-19 certificate
KPMG: GMS Flash Alert, 28/06/2021: European Union – COVID-19 Digital Certificate
BBC News, 30/06/2021: The EU’s vaccine passport and what it means for travel

Deutsche Welle, 01/03/2021: EU to propose 'green pass' vaccine certificate this month
Euronews, 12/03/2021: EU's 'vaccine passports' will only be valid with EMA-approved COVID jabs
Politico, 16/03/2021: EU’s COVID travel pass will let countries choose Russia, China vaccines
Deutsche Welle, 17/03/2021: EU plans to have vaccine certificates ready by summer
Politico, 17/03/2021: Commission tries to rescue the summer with coronavirus travel certificate
The Guardian, 17/03/2021: Covid: EU unveils 'digital green certificate' to allow citizens to travel
BBC News, 17/03/2021: EU plans for a 'vaccine passport' to allow travel
Euronews, 17/03/2021: Von der Leyen threatens to block vaccine exports unless EU ‘gets its fair share’
Deutsche Welle, 17/03/2021: Irish foreign minister urges caution with EU vaccine passport plans
EUObserver, 18/03/2021: First glimpse of new EU 'vaccine certificate' for summer
Euronews, 18/03/2021: WHO advises against vaccine passports as EU debates 'green pass'
EurActiv, 25/03/2021: Few signs that EU health passports can be ready before July
Politico, 25/03/2021: MEPs vote to fast-track coronavirus travel pass
EurActiv, 30/03/2021: EU parliament could approve COVID ‘green’ pass in June: lawmaker
The Local (Austria), 12/04/2021: Green pass: Austria’s coronavirus immunity card one step closer to reality
Kathimerini, 13/04/2021: ‘Green passport’ scheme for Covid-free EU travel gathers pace
Reuters, 13/04/2021: Airlines could use new EU COVID pass this summer: official
Politico, 13/04/2021: Europe risks another tech tangle with vaccine passports
Euronews, 13/04/2021: Brussels wants EU vaccine passports ready by the start of summer
EurActiv, 14/04/2021: Council ready to negotiate on COVID travel certificate
BBC News, 28/04/2021: Covid: Spain hopes for tourists as EU votes on digital passports
RTÉ News, 29/04/2021: EU moves closer to Covid travel certificate
Deutsche Welle, 20/05/2021: EU reaches deal on approving COVID 'travel pass'
Euronews, 20/05/2021: Digital green certificate: Deal reached to introduce an EU-wide COVID travel pass
RTÉ News, 20/05/2021: EU agrees deal on Covid pass to pave way for summer travel
N1 News, 20/05/2021: EU reaches deal on COVID-19 certificate
EurActiv, 21/05/2021: EU reaches deal on COVID-19 travel passes to save the summer
France24, 21/05/2021: EU members agree on Covid-19 passes for summer travel
EUObserver, 21/05/2021: New EU Covid certficate set for July holiday travel
The Sofia Globe, 21/05/2021: EU bodies reach agreement on Digital Covid Certificate
Hungary Today, 21/05/2021: ‘EU Digital COVID Certificate’ Confirmed, EMA Vaccines Only
YLE News, 21/05/2021: Finland joins EU Covid digital passport deal
The Guardian, 31/05/2021: EU plans to lift Covid quarantine rules for vaccinated from 1 July
Euronews, 02/06/2021: These seven countries are now using the EU's COVID travel pass
The Local (Germany), 02/06/2021: Meet the German team developing the EU’s first vaccine passport
Reuters, 04/06/2021: Swiss to launch COVID-19 certificates next week to ease travel
El País, 08/06/2021: Spain rolls out the European Union’s Digital Covid Certificate system
The Local (Sweden), 08/06/2021: A million Europeans obtain EU Covid health pass ahead of vote
Forbes, 09/06/2021: Digital Covid Passports Approved By The European Union From July 1, In A Boost To Cross-Border Travel
VOA News, 09/06/2021: EU Parliament Approves Digital COVID-19 Travel Certificate
EurActiv, 09/06/2021: EU in talks with US, UK on mutual recognition of COVID-19 travel certificates
Deutsche Welle, 09/06/2021: European Parliament approves digital COVID certificate
RTÉ News, 09/06/2021: Over one million EU citizens have Covid-19 certificate
Cyprus Mail, 14/06/2021: EU Digital Covid Certificate takes off today
The Guardian, 28/06/2021: UK and Brussels near deal on Covid passports to boost holiday hopes
Euronews, 29/06/2021: European airlines warn digital COVID pass will cause travel chaos
Reuters, 29/062021: EU airlines, airports warn digital COVID-19 certificate roll-out risks chaos
Hungary Today, 30/06/2021: EU COVID Certificate Effective July 1, Where Is the Hungarian Update?
EurActiv, 30/06/2021: African Union warns EU over vaccine certificate ‘inequality’
RTÉ News, 01/07/2021: Ireland not ready to comply with EU travel cert introduction on 1 July
The New York Times, 01/07/2021: Digital vaccination cards go into effect in Europe, with some turbulence.
Deutsche Welle, 01/07/2021: EU's digital COVID certificate comes into effect, 01/07/2021: EU-wide digital Covid certificate includes Latvia
Euronews, 01/07/2021: Digital COVID Certificate: EU-wide travel pass officially comes into force

EUR-LEX: COM(2021)130: Proposal for a Regulation on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable certificates on vaccination, testing and recovery to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic (Digital Green Certificate)
European Parliament: Legislative Observatory: Procedure File for Proposal on Digital Green Certificate - Union citizens (2021/0068(COD))
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: Regulation on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable certificates on vaccination, testing and recovery to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic (Digital Green Certificate)
European Commission: COVID-19: Digital green certificates
General Secretariat of the Council: Policies: EU digital COVID certificate: how it works
European Commission: Press Release, 17/03/2021: Coronavirus: Commission proposes a Digital Green Certificate
European Commission: Questions and Answers – Digital Green Certificate (17 March 2021)
S&D Group: Newsroom, 17/03/2021: S&Ds support proposal for European Digital Green Certificates, but data protection, health and free movement must be guaranteed
Renew Europe Group: Newsroom, 17/03/2021: Digital Green Certificate must be based on European values and accessible to all citizens
European Parliament: Press Release, 25/03/2021: Parliament fast-tracks procedure to adopt Digital Green Certificate by June
European Parliament: Press Release, 13/04/2021: Digital Green Certificate: MEPs seek clarifications regarding the travel facilitation tool
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 14/04/2021: COVID-19: Council agrees its negotiating mandate on the Digital Green Certificate
European Parliament: Press Release, 29/04/2021: EU COVID-19 certificate must facilitate free movement without discrimination
European Commission: Press Release, 20/05/2021: EU Digital COVID Certificate: European Parliament and Council reach agreement on Commission proposal
European Parliament: Press Release, 20/05/2021: EU digital Covid Certificate: provisional deal between Parliament and Council
EPP Group: Newsroom, 20/05/2021: Negotiation breakthrough: new digital COVID certificate will be recognised all over EU
Renew Europe: Newsroom, 20/05/2021: EU Digital Covid Certificate: Renew Europe welcomes deal to help re-establish free movement
ECR Group: Newsroom, 20/05/2021: The EU Digital Covid Certificate is a crucial step towards saving the tourist season
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 21/05/2021: COVID-19: Coreper endorses political agreement on the EU digital COVID certificate to facilitate free movement
European Commission: Press Release, 01/06/2021: EU Digital COVID Certificate: EU Gateway goes live with seven countries one month ahead of deadline
European Commission: Questions and Answers – EU Digital COVID Certificate (1 June 2021)
European Parliament: Press Release, 09/06/2021: Parliament gives its final green light to the EU Digital COVID Certificate
EFTA: News, 11/06/2021: Digital COVID certificate will apply across the EEA from 1 July
European Commission: EU clears way for the EU Digital COVID Certificate (14 June 2021)
Portuguese Council Presidency: News, 16/06/2021: Digital COVID Certificate to allow people “to travel freely and safely”
Official Journal of the European Union: L230: Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/1073 laying down technical specifications and rules for the implementation of the trust framework for the EU Digital COVID Certificate established by Regulation (EU) 2021/953
European Commission: Press Release, 01/07/2021: EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application in the EU

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