The EU Council has finally passed the extension of the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate scheme’s validity after two weeks of consideration.
On June 28, the council decided that, in case the pandemic starts getting out of control again, the scheme should remain in effect for another year. They stressed the pivotal role the certificate has played in facilitating unimpeded travelling throughout Europe for the past two years.
In a press release, they said: “The regulation establishing the EU digital COVID certificate will be prolonged by one year, until June 30 2023. The extension of the regulation will ensure that EU travellers, as well as those from third countries connected to the system, can continue to use their EU digital COVID certificate for travel within the Union in the Member States where these certificates are required.”
They also asserted that, should the situation around the pandemic keep improving, the scheme is subject to termination earlier than June next year. By the end of this year, December 2022, the Commission is obliged to put together and turn in an assessment on whether it is necessary to prolong or abolish the scheme then.
Earlier, The Commission proposed that the certificates reflect all doses delivered, independent of the Member Country where the certificate holder was immunised, and the Council has already approved these adjustments to the programme.
The new amendments suggest issuing certificates of recovery for those who received positive results from an antigen test. The list of approved antigen tests for COVID-19 tests will expand accordingly.
To promote additional research into COVID-19 vaccines, the Council has also determined that vaccination certificates should be given to people taking part in clinical trials.
The action followed an agreement on the extension of the COVID certificate agreed by the European Parliament and the members of European Parliament negotiators on June 14.
The scheme was due to expire by the end of June. However, a one-year extension has been passed with a view to ensuring free movement of EU citizens in case of dangerous new COVID-19 variants.
Regarding the call, the Council stated that with this extension, EU travellers as well as third-country travellers, whose countries are compatible with the scheme, can keep using their certificate to travel to European destinations where such documents are required.
Additionally, an agreement has been made among co-legislators whereby all vaccines received should be reflected on all certificates, irrespective of the individual’s original place of receiving the inoculation.
The EU Commission has applauded the decision to prolong the EU Digital COVID Certificate by a year.
Didier Reynders, the EU Commissioner for Justice, said that the 1.8 billion EU Digital COVID Certificate issued has been a fundamental part of combating the erratic epidemiological situation.
He stressed that unrestricted movement is the ultimate goal that EU authorities are striving towards. Therefore, this new deal is believed to help facilitate free travel.
Reynders’ statement reads: “Today’s deal will help us continue to facilitate free and safe travel, should a rise in infections make it necessary for the Member States to temporarily reintroduce restrictions.”