EU digital health passport goes live in seven European countries


The European Union’s technical system responsible for the verification of the security features contained in the QR codes of all EU Digital COVID Certificates has gone live with seven EU Member States one month ahead of schedule.

The European Union Digital COVID Certificate has reached another important milestone with the go-live of the technical system, two months after it was proposed by the European Commission to resume safe travelling this summer.

The app, which will be free of charge, will allow users to verify health certificates in a secure and privacy-friendly way.

Available in a digital format or on paper, the solution will serve as a proof that person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection.

Following the political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the Regulation governing the certificate on 20 May, the technical backbone of the EU systems has now gone live. The EU gateway enables the verification of the security features contained in the QR codes of all certificates.

From 1 July all EU member states will be required to roll out the system. Since 10 May, 22 countries have tested the gateway, while seven member states have already started using the system one month ahead of the deadline. These include Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland, with more countries expected to join in the coming weeks.

After 1 July, there will be a six-week phasing-in period for the issuance of certificates for those European countries that need more time to implement the technology.

European travel and tourism sector calls for united approach to lifting restrictions and reopening international borders

 

Meanwhile, Airlines For Europe (A4E), Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) have jointly launched a new campaign, called Destination Summer, with the aim to adopt a harmonised approach for the resumption of travel in Europe.

Following the progress of recent vaccination efforts and the introduction of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the associations believe that the prerequisites are now in place to enable the reopening of travel and tourism in a coordinated manner that is consistent with health measures and avoids unfair discrimination between vaccinated/non-vaccinated travellers.

The coalition is calling for a common European approach based on the following key points:

  • The restoration of freedom of movement in the EU, notably via the swift implementation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
  • The roll-out of affordable, reliable and rapid EU testing capabilities, as needed, that allow for the end of blanket quarantines and make use of the growing availability of antigen tests.
  • A push for a progressive resumption of non-essential international travel through a regular revision of the ‘EU White List’ — and by allowing entry into the EU for travellers coming from third-countries with a good epidemiological situation, and for those inoculated with EU-authorised vaccines.

The European travel and tourism sector, represented by the four associations, is also encouraging European citizens and travel and tourism companies to join the #destinationsummer campaign hashtag and share their desire to travel again on social media.

Rafael Schvartzman, Regional Vice President for Europe at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), commented: “According to a recent survey by IATA, 76% of people want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible. We have the means—with testing and vaccinations—to safely reconnect people and restart the travel and tourism sector in time for summer. We just need the will and coordination by governments to make it happen.”

Olivier Jankovec, Director General at Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE), added: “There is huge pent-up demand to travel again and we do not want to reopen for summer, only to be in lockdown again. Travelling responsibly means staying safe and healthy so that Europe will have a better chance of a quicker and longer-term recovery. By respecting safety measures, together we can make the summer of 21 one to remember for all the right reasons.”

“Together we can make the reopening of travel and tourism in Europe this summer a reality. This is a key strategy to ensure the health and wellbeing of citizens and the vitality of the whole European travel and tourism value chain in the long term”, added Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General at the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC).

Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, Airlines for Europe (A4E), also commented: “Freedom of movement is a core European principle and citizens need to be able to move both freely and safely. After 15 months of lockdowns and travel restrictions, it’s time to reunite travellers in Europe. We need to see a coordinated easing of restrictions. Our campaign urges policy-makers to recognise the speedy, positive impact of vaccinations and scientific knowledge gained the last year for EU countries to better coordinate and restore free movement for citizens.”

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