The EU’s Digital Covid Certificate scheme has officially launched, permitting easier travel for EU citizens across the bloc amid ongoing pandemic restrictions. However, Ireland will be late to join due to a cyber-attack.
The European Commission shared confirmation of the project’s launch on Twitter, heralding the move as “bringing back the spirit of an open Europe.”
Under the Digital Covid Certificate scheme, EU citizens can travel within the union by showing proof, either digitally or as a print-out, that they have either been vaccinated against the virus, tested negative for it, or recently recovered from a Covid illness due to the presence of antibodies. Certificate holders should be exempt from having to undergo restrictions such as quarantine when traveling within the EU.
We are bringing back the spirit of an open Europe.
As of today, EU citizens can get their #EUCOVIDcertificate issued and verified across the Union.
— European Commission ?? (@EU_Commission) July 1, 2021
“Under the new rules, Member States must refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health,” the Commission said.
Currently, the rules of the Digital Passport System state that only those who have received vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) can receive a certificate to verify their inoculated status. The EMA has approved four vaccines to date: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Janssen.
The limited list raises questions for EU citizens who have received other jabs which are awaiting approval by the EMA, such as Russia’s Sputnik V, given that member states have discretion as to whether or not they will provide certificates for other vaccines.
Hungary became the first EU state to approve and buy Sputnik V, ordering 2 million doses in February. Neighboring Slovakia followed suit and began administering the Russian vaccine in early June.
However, one member state has faced additional difficulties in joining the Covid cert project. Just a day before the scheme’s launch, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders noted that Ireland’s participation will be delayed until July 19 in light of a recent major cyber-attack on its national health service.
— Colm Ó Mongáin (@colmomongain) June 30, 2021
Alongside the 27 EU member states, the scheme has also been rolled out in EEA countries such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, and Vatican City.