One of Portugal’s key priorities as it holds the current European Union presidency is to ensure Digital Green Certificates are available by mid-June.
According to Portuguese secretary of state for European affairs Ana Paula Zacarias, Portugal “will do everything” to conclude implementation of the health certificate before summer. Speaking at a press conference with Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the commission responsible for inter-institutional relations, she said an ad hoc group was already working on technical elements to make sure the system is “totally inter-operable” and can be “implemented immediately” in member states when the legislative proposal becomes a regulation. “We have a very tight schedule, and we have to work hard at the Council level and in discussions with the European Parliament.”
In a separate statement, minister for health Marta Temido said the epidemiological situation in Portugal currently remained stable, and there was a decreasing trend in the number of new cases, hospitalisations and deaths. “We hope to be able to maintain the risk levels of transmission and, above all, of incidence that will allow us to continue to make progress, but we have to be attentive and that involves everyone.”
Meanwhile, returning to the certificates, Ana Paula Zacarias said, “It is important for the member states to gather all the information on the vaccination situation, but also on people who have recovered from COVID-19 and those who have had negative tests.
“The idea is also to facilitate free movement as early as possible. We know that the situation now is not easy across Europe, a lot of caution is needed, but this certificate gives us a glimmer of hope that by the summer normal life can be resumed a little.”
What is the Digital Green Certificate?
Proposed by the European Commission, the aim of the certificate is to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated and has received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will reportedly be available free of charge, in digital or paper format, and include a QR code to ensure the certificate’s security and authenticity.
The Commission says it will “build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU”, and will support member states with the certificate’s technical implementation. Member states will retain responsibility for deciding which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers, but they will be required to “apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate”.
In addition to the 27 EU countries, the certificate will be “open” for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. “The Digital Green Certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. It should also be issued to non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to other member states.”
As it is intended to be a temporary measure, the Digital Green Certificate will be suspended “once the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency”.
According to vice president for values and transparency Věra Jourová, “The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU. This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection. And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”
Added commissioner for justice Didier Reynders, “With the Digital Green Certificate, we are taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer. 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.”
Latest information about coronavirus measures and travel restrictions in member states is available on the Re-open EU platform.
Faro Airport has been recognised internationally for its benchmark commitment to health measures.