On 3 February, the European Commission
proposed to extend the validity of Regulation (EU)2021/953 on a framework for
the issuance, verification, and acceptance of interoperable certificates
attesting to COVID-19 vaccination and testing, and recovery from COVID-19
infection (EU digital COVID certificate) by one year with the objective of
facilitating free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic (see
Pandemic forecasts are difficult
Infection rates are still high and the
trend over the summer ahead is hardly foreseeable. New mutations can still
occur, creating new hazards in terms of infection, disease and its progression.
In view of these uncertainties, a longer period of validity of the regulation
is appropriate. It is also warranted as the implementation of vaccination
strategies has been slow in many Member States. "Vaccine naysayers"
would benefit very little from the EU certificate if the regulation actually
expired on 30 June this year.
The certificate shows only the status quo
The European Commission has achieved great
success with the digital COVID certificate. Almost everyone with a smartphone
also has the EU certificate. The QR codes can be read electronically in every
EU Member State and 33 other countries. The COVID certificate is the ticket to
many things in a world shaped by pandemic restrictions on everyday life.
Provided that one is sufficiently vaccinated, an infection did not occur too
long ago or the test is negative. The COVID certificate maps vaccination,
testing and recovery status. It can only show the status quo. What one is
allowed to do is up to the countries.
Exceptions confirm the rule
The validity of the individual certificates is not
regulated at this point. There are EU-wide requirements here, but they are not
implemented exactly in all Member States. Since 1 February, the vaccination
certificate has been valid for 270 days throughout the EU after the second
here); however, it is only valid after the third vaccination in Austria (see here).
A requirement for a test certificate is a negative PCR test that is less than
72 hours old or a negative antigen test that is less than 48 hours old. The
basis for a certificate of recovery is a positive PCR test performed more than
eleven days but but was not carried out more than 180 days ago. Germany was an exception in the meantime, with a validity of only 90 days.
... and there is an atmosphere of rising resentment in the parliament
appears to be acceptable in the specific case may
very well lead to annoyance on
the whole. In this sense, 52 MEPs - including those from Austria and
Germany - have appealed to the European Commissioner for the Interior, Thierry
Breton to protest against the continuing obstacles to the free movement of
persons. The letter of 7 February 2022 states
"Citizens still need to browse several
websites to find out what they need to do before travelling, whether they need
forms to obtain a passport, whether they need to be checked, whether their
second dose is still valid in other countries, etc.". The patchwork of restrictions in EU countries must be replaced by "appropriate standardization of
Further changes to follow
The European Commission also intends to use
the necessary amendment to the law to introduce minor changes to the content.
Thus, it should also be possible to issue test certificates for high-quality
laboratory antigen tests. In addition, the aim is to ensure that vaccinations
carried out in different Member States are reflected in the vaccination
certificate. So far, only vaccinations that take place in the issuing country
are certified. In addition, individuals participating in clinical trials for
COVID-19 vaccines will also receive a certificate.
The European Parliament and the European
Council must confirm the proposals in a timely manner for the changes to enter
into force on time, in particular, the extension of the regulation.