Last Updated on Thursday, 25 March, 2021 at 1:10 pm by Andre Camilleri
The airline welcomes the Digital Green Certificate proposal
The European Commission’s proposal of a “digital green certificate” has been welcomed by Air Malta this week. The certificate would allow EU citizens who have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from Covid-19 to travel more freely within the EU.
The proposal is aimed to facilitate the safe free movement inside the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic and support the restart of travel through the issuance of common, inter-operable and mutually recognised certificates.
The Digital Green certificate will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format and will offer proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from the disease. The certificate will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity.
The Commission pledged to build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Under this proposal, Member States will remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green certificate.
Commenting on this proposal Air Malta’s Chairman, David G. Curmi, said, “Air Malta welcomes the EU Commission’s proposal for the Digital Green certificate. This certificate offers various benefits in that travellers, who have been vaccinated, can be exempt from travel restrictions that might be applicable, and recognises our belief that vaccinations should not be mandatory in order to travel.”
“Europe needs a clear path out of this pandemic which has caused so much hardship to the travel industry especially for States like Malta that depend heavily on tourism. We need common solutions, effective and safe measures for all travellers and international procedures which are fully coordinated and aligned”, added Mr Curmi.
Other industry associations including Airlines for Europe (A4E), ACI EUROPE (Airports Council International), ASD (Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe), CANSO, European Regions Airline Association (ERA), and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of the world’s airlines, also commented positively on this proposal.
They said that these certificates will be a key tool to facilitate a safe and efficient resumption of travel and tourism in Europe. The associations have called on the EU Council and the European Parliament to urgently approve the Commission proposal, and for all EU States to immediately begin preparations for their implementation.
The associations have urged EU governments to ensure the certificates are operational in time for the peak summer travel months thus enabling the elimination of restrictions to travel whilst recognising that vaccination should not be mandatory to travel.
Key elements of the regulation proposed by the EU Commission are as follows:
Accessible and secure certificates for all EU citizens:
- The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates –vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from Covid-19.
- The certificates will be issued in a digital form or on paper. Both will have a QR code that contains necessary key information as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
- The Commission will build a gateway and support Member States to develop software that authorities can use to verify all certificate signatures across the EU. No personal data of the certificate holders passes through the gateway, or is retained by the verifying Member State.
- The certificates will be available free of charge and in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.
- All people – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – should benefit from a Digital Green Certificate when travelling in the EU. To prevent discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only an interoperable vaccination certificate, but also COVID-19 test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from Covid-19.
- The Digital Green Certificate system is a temporary measure. It will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the Covid-19 international health emergency.
To be ready before the summer, this EU proposal needs a swift adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. In parallel, Member States must implement the trust framework and technical standards, agreed in the eHealth network, to ensure timely implementation of the Digital Green Certificate, their interoperability and full compliance with personal data protection. The aim is to have the technical work and the proposal completed in the coming months.