The European Union-wide Covid certificate came into force on Thursday, as the EU aims to kickstart the summer tourism season by streamlining border crossings.
The certificate is essentially a QR code, either on a smartphone or paper, which validates whether a traveler has been vaccinated, has recovered from a COVID infection, or has had a recent negative COVID test.
They thought it was impossible… but we made it!
As of today, every European citizen can have an #EUCovidCertificate to travel more freely, safely and rapidly.
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) July 1, 2021
According to the EU, the certificate holder should “in principle be exempted from free movement restrictions,” and EU member states should “refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions” on holders “unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.”
National authorities, such as health care facilities or test centers, are in charge of issuing the certificate, according to the EU.
The EU plans for all 27 member-states to accept the certificate, a process made possible by integrating and networking public health data.
Greece was the first EU country to implement the “Green passport” initiative, having already gone through a testing phase and prepared a fully-operational online platform for it. PM Mitsotakis was the very first national leader to promote the idea back in January of 2021.
The online platform opens to Greeks on gov.gr, where all citizens are able to log on using either their personal Taxisnet passwords or their AMKA (Social Security) number. They can then be issued a “Digital Green Certificate,” which is being hailed as the saving grace of the European travel industry.
Four associated European nations (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), are also included.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said he expected all EU member states to be connected to the certificate network starting Thursday. Only Ireland, which was hit by a cyber-attack targeting its health service in May, will be delayed.
Implementation of EU digital COVID certificate raises concerns
Europe’s air travel industry warned earlier this week that the EU’s plans for a digital Covid certificate were still “fragmented.”
Groups representing the continent’s largest airlines and airports have expressed fresh concerns that there will be long queues for travelers unless countries better coordinate the rollout of the certificate.
The letter of warning to EU leaders was signed by airports group ACI Europe, as well as airlines representative bodies A4E, IATA and ERA.
“Certificate verification will undermine smooth summer travel for EU passengers,” they said in a joint statement. “As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European Airports is real.”
“Duplicate checks and lack of verification tools provided to airlines will cause unnecessary airport queues and longer processing times if not addressed by the Member States.”