Success story in the shadow of the crisis
The EU COVID digital certificate came into
force on 1 July this year. It became a success in a very short time. Now the
validity of the vaccination certificate is to be harmonised.
650 million certificates had been issued by
November. In addition to the EU Member States, 18 other countries are part of
the system. Their citizens can get a vaccination, test and/or recovery
certificate, download it to their app and show it when needed. There is an
increasing need for this. The fourth coronavirus wave has governments
tightening their grip on the reins again. Whether 3G, 2G, 2G plus – the proof
of whether someone has been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative is an
indispensable part of everyday life, which is dominated by the pandemic.
"This certificate is not a travel document"
"This certificate is not a travel
document" – this sentence has to be written in every certificate according
to Article 3(5) of the EU Regulation. In the political discussion, it was
repeatedly emphasised that there would be no interference with the competence
of the Member States to draft their entry rules. More restrictive rules to
protect public health would still be possible. Nevertheless, travel should
become easier again. With the certificate it was expected that Member States
would refrain as far as possible from imposing additional restrictions on the
right to free movement, such as travel-related tests, quarantine or
self-isolation in connection with a trip. The right to freedom of movement was
the key driver and played a major role in drafting the COVID-19 digital certificate regulation . This is valid
until 30 June 2022, but an extension cannot be ruled out depending on the
Protection by vaccination is not permanent
In view of the worsening situation and on
the basis of its implementation report of 18 October this year, the European
Commission proposed on 25 November, inter alia, to limit the validity of the
vaccination certificate to a standard validity period of nine months after the
first series of two vaccinations has been carried out. There are no reliable
findings on a possible longer protection after booster vaccination. There may
need to be further adjustments in the future with a view to possibly longer
protection after booster vaccination. There are also open questions regarding
the validity period of recovery certificates, as can be seen from the Annexes to the report .
6, 9 or 12 months?
The validity of vaccination certificates
was also debated by EU health ministers at their conference on 7 December.
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, France, Lithuania and Latvia support the
European Commission's proposal, even if they consider a shorter period, for
example, six months to be safer, in principle. Nevertheless, nine months is a
good compromise. Other countries, such as Belgium and Denmark, prefer a
validity of the vaccination certificate of twelve months after booster
vaccination has been administered. The decision will be taken by the Committee
of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) in its 50th calendar week and is
expected to come into force in February 2022. However, Member States may adopt
different national rules. However, this would not be in the spirit of the
freedom of movement.