EU Digital COVID Certificate: Commission welcomes political agreement on one year extension
The European Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement reached today by the European Parliament and the Council on the extension of the EU Digital COVID Certificate by one year, following the Commission's proposal. The extension will allow persons to continue using their certificate to travel across the EU past the Regulation's initial expiry date of 30 June 2022.
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the situation evolve constantly, and so have our tools. With over 1.8 billion certificates issued, two things are clear: the epidemiological situation can change fast, and the EU Digital COVID Certificate has been a key instrument to help us through the changing tides. We are committed to a return to unrestricted free movement, and we welcome the decision taken by some Member States to lift all travel restrictions, including the presentation of a COVID Certificate. Today's deal will help us continue to facilitate free and safe travel, should a rise in infections make it necessary for Member States to temporarily reintroduce restrictions”.
The European Parliament and the Council also agreed to introduce some additional changes to the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, so that it is even more accessible to citizens. In particular, Member States will be able to issue certificates to participants of clinical trials and will recognise additional types of antigen tests.
The European Parliament and the Council will need to formally adopt today's political agreement.
By 31 December 2022, the Commission will publish a report on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, which may be accompanied by a proposal to shorten the period of application of the Regulation, taking into account the evolution of the epidemiological situation.
To facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate on 14 June 2021. It applies since 1 July 2021 and was set to expire on 30 June 2022.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a success story for the EU. The certificate has facilitated safe travel for citizens across the European Union when Member States restricted travel on the grounds of public health. So far, Member States issued over 1.8 billion certificates. In addition, it has set a global standard for international travel. Today, 67 countries and territories are connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, with more expected to join in the future.
On 21 December 2021, the Commission adopted new rules relating to the EU Digital COVID Certificate, establishing, for the purpose of travel, a binding acceptance period of 9 months (precisely 270 days) for vaccination certificates indicating the completion of the primary series for the purposes of intra-EU travel. These rules started to apply as from 1 February 2022. This acceptance period is limited to certificates of persons aged 18 and above.
On 25 January 2022, the Council agreed to update the rules to facilitate safe and free movement in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. Holders of valid EU Digital COVID Certificates should in principle not be subject to any additional restrictions when travelling within the EU.
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