European Commission announces update on EU’s Digital Green Certificate - what it means for travellers

By Helen Johnson
Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 1:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 1:07 pm
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced an update on the European Union’s plans to reopen travel (Photo: Shutterstock)

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced an update on the European Union’s plans to reopen travel.

The EU plans to introduce a Green Digital Certificate, which will show if travellers have received the Covid vaccination.

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What is the Digital Green Certificate?

Discussing the Digital Green Certificate as part of the European Commission’s college meeting on Wednesday (17 March), Ms von der Leyen said it will show if a person has received a Covid vaccine, has a negative coronavirus test or has recovered from Covid and has antibodies.

She also said that the certificate - which will be free of charge - will be mutually recognised in every EU member state and will provide freedom of movement.

When asked if the certificate will have an expiration date, Commissioner Didier Reynderssaid that it will just be for the duration of the Covid pandemic, and will cease to be used when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declare that the coronavirus pandemic is over.

However, the European Commission hopes that it will be possible to reactivate the certificate if a new pandemic arises in the future.

In regards to whether or not people from one EU country will be able to travel by car to another country, for example from Spain to Portugal, Commissioner Reynders said this will still be possible.

He also added that in order to avoid discrimination, the European Commission will not be advising each member state on the use of the certificate, and that it will be down to each member state to control and organise its use.

Writing on Twitter at the beginning of the month the European Commission president, said: “We'll present this month a legislative proposal for a Digital Green Pass. The aim is to provide:

•Proof that a person has been vaccinated•Results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet•Info on COVID19 recovery It will respect data protection, security & privacy

“The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism,” she added.

What does this mean for UK travellers?

Although Ms von der Leyen discussed what the Digital Green Certificate would mean for EU member states, no further clarification was given in regards to UK travellers.

A travel ban to overseas destinations is currently in place for the UK, apart from a small number of exceptions.

However, the Government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.

Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was currently still too early to book summer holidays.

Mr Shapps was asked by Mishal Hussain on the BBC Today show: “Still too early to book foreign holidays?,” to which he replied: “Yes, in as much as we know that the Global Travel Taskforce that I’m running reports on 12 April.

Mr Shapps also said he was “hopeful” that people will be able to travel abroad this summer, he warned that there were no “cast iron guarantees”.

The Transport Secretary told Times Radio: “I am hopeful but, as with everything to do with this virus, you can’t say for certain.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to work around but I am working with international partners, both governments and organisations, to try to make it happen. We can’t provide cast iron guarantees on it.”