17 Mar, 2021

Liberal Commissioners present initiative to restore free movement

On 17 March, European Commissioners Didier Reynders and Thierry Breton unveiled an initiative to facilitate the free movement inside the European Union given the COVID-19 pandemic: the Digital Green Certificate.

This initiative evolves around the following key principles:

  • Accessibility and security: include not only vaccinations but also negative tests and past COVID-19 diagnosis. It will be free of charge and issued in digital and paper formats as well as adapted to the languages of Member States.
  • Non-discrimination: open for all EU citizens – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – travelling in the EU. It serves as a proof of vaccination and discourages quarantine for those that are vaccinated. Only EU-approved vaccines will be included but Member States can decide to accept others.
  • Privacy: include only essential data to verify the authenticity and validity of the certificate.

The certificate proposes a common system to help governments to coordinate travel measures and slowly restart free and safe movement in the European Union. It allows vaccinated and non-vaccinated EU citizens to travel to other Member States without having to adhere to pandemic-related travel restrictions (e.g. quarantine).

The Digital Green Certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It will be only valid until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement, and it will not discriminate in any way. A common EU-approach will not only help us to gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation. It is also a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on our European values like data protection”, Commissioner Reynders stressed during the presentation of the initiative.

As Europe’s Liberals, we believe that Europe needs a cross-country coordinated approached and harmonised rules to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact on our societies and economies. Freedom of movement is one of the cornerstones of the EU and uncoordinated closures of borders must be avoided at all costs. As economies are re-starting and more vaccinations get available, the EU needs to ensure a common and coordinated approach on travel and a common vaccination programme with full transparency on the vaccination progress.

See more about the liberal fight against COVID-19 in the 'Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic' resolution.

Photo credit: Dati Bendo, EC - Audiovisual Service 2021.

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