• Tue. Oct 26th, 2021

Green pass covid, the EU travel certificate from 1 July

Byeditorial

May 22, 2021

The Green Pass, or the European digital Covid certificate as it has been renamed after numerous nominalistic swings, will help restore greater freedom of movement in the EU starting next July 1st, even if it is not the magic bullet that will solve everything. Read also It is however “good news” for European citizens, underlines the negotiator of the European Parliament, the Spanish socialist Fernando Lopez Aguilar, president of the Libe commission, who will vote on the agreement reached between the Council and Parliament on the regulation next week. before the vote in plenary between 7 and 10 June. A regulation, an immediately effective “European law”, is in any case better than the alternative: a Babel of “national”, if not “regional” certificates, which would mean “confusion, arbitrariness, insecurity and discrimination”. The regulation will then be effective from 1 July, once approved by the Council and published in the EU Official Journal. Traveling in Europe in time of the Covid-19 pandemic will remain quite complicated, although much less than now and, it is the hope, even compared to the summer of 2020, a “nightmare”, as Aguilar defines it, who comes from the Canary Islands . The main reason for this complication is that the EU is not a federal state and has limited competences: things can only be simplified up to a certain point. The competences remain mainly national, with 27 Member States, and this inevitably entails complications, even if the certificate will be governed by a regulation, a provision that has the force of law in all States. The agreement between the Council and Parliament resulted in a proposal which, according to negotiator Lopez Aguilar, is much better than the Commission’s proposal and the Council’s negotiating position, in every “single article”. Even if the Council, also strengthened by the urgency procedure decided to get the certificate in force before the summer (otherwise it would risk being almost useless), “did not show willingness to compromise” with Parliament during the negotiations. The starting point of the Council in the negotiations, underlined Lopez Aguilar, was the “claim of national competences to protect public health, which rewards everything”. The fact is that, he recalled, while the European Parliament must necessarily “legislate” at EU level, the Council, which represents the Member States, does not necessarily have to do so, because, in the absence of a European regulation, it always has a “plan B “. The Council could have limited itself to having a “myriad” of national certificates, not compatible with each other or recognized by other countries, when not “regional certificates”, recalls Lopez Aguilar. The chaos, in short, like the one that was repeated this winter with unilateral travel limitations (multiple tests plus quarantines) imposed by various countries, which have almost eliminated free movement in the EU, while the Commission, in front of the arrival of the variants, it has not taken strong initiatives to curb the initiatives of the States in this field. A situation, that of the Babel of certificates, which would be “absolutely intolerable and unsustainable”, for Lopez Aguilar. This ‘leverage’ of the Council has weighed in the negotiations: for example, Parliament has failed to impose the free tests necessary to obtain the certificate, if one has not been vaccinated. The Council, explains Lopez Aguilar, “resisted until the last moment” to “alleviate the individual costs of testing”, which hinder the “right of citizens to free movement”. The Commission partially remedies this ‘vulnus’, allocating an additional 100 million euros to buy high-quality rapid tests for essential workers. The lack of free tests represents objectively a discrimination, given that vaccination is free and that there are also people that cannot be vaccinated. However, as vaccination progresses, the problem is expected to gradually diminish and the Commission is confident that “high quality” rapid tests will be available in Europe at affordable prices by early July. The basic principle of the certificate is that it ensures the holder a non-discriminatory treatment, on the part of the EU country he goes to, compared to that which the same country reserves for its citizens. An Italian, for example, who goes to Spain, will have to be treated in the same way as the Spaniards, and vice versa for a Spaniard who goes to Italy. Furthermore, the certificate will allow verification of its authenticity in any EU state, regardless of where it was issued in the Union, through a digital platform provided by the Commission. So far 17 member states, plus Iceland, “have successfully tested the connection with the EU Gateway,” said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. And President Ursula von der Leyen made it clear that technically the Commission will be ready “from June”, the month in which the holiday season is already underway in southern Europe. The certificate, in digital or paper format, will certify three things, alternatively between them, to prove that the holder does not risk transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. First option, which should become prevalent with the progress of vaccination campaigns: the vaccination of the holder, with vaccines approved by the EMA (until now Pfizer / BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen, of the J&J group, the only single dose). It is also possible to certify vaccination with vaccines not approved by the EMA, such as Sputnik or Sinopharm, used in Hungary for example. In this case, however, it will be up to the individual Member States to decide whether to accept them or not. The certificate will indicate the type of vaccine inoculated, the date of vaccination and the number of doses received. Member States may also recognize vaccination with a single dose of vaccine, but it is not a requirement. Therefore, in theory it could happen that, if a person vaccinated with one dose wants to enter a country that recognizes only the double dose (except for J&J, the only single-dose vaccine), he will have to take a test. Tests that will be the only way to get the certificate for children, who are not yet vaccinated.Second option: being negative on a test, Pcr or rapid antigenic. Again, it will be up to the Member States to choose whether to accept rapid tests, which are much cheaper than PCRs, for certificate purposes. Therefore, also taking into account the fact that the validity of the test as proof of negativity is limited in time, this freedom that the States retain may cause difficulties in planning the trips. Do-it-yourself tests are not accepted, because the result must be certified. Third option: to be cured of Covid-19 and therefore theoretically immune, at least for a certain period, and no longer contagious. To certify the cure, the option of the serological test, which measures the presence of antibodies, was discarded due to lack of “scientific certainty”, explains Lopez Aguilar. The positive PCR swab will be valid, with a maximum duration of 180 days from the date of the same: the certificate of healing is issued no earlier than 11 days after the positive swab. Here too, the duration of this type of coverage will be fixed by each individual Member State, another possible source of complications in travel. In four months, the Commission will re-evaluate the serological tests, based on scientific evidence. The duration of coverage is an indeterminate point of the Green Pass: no minimum duration is set for tests (it is up to the Member States to decide) or for vaccines (here the decision will be taken later, based on the scientific evidence that is still lacking. , for reasons of time) and not even for healing (maximum 180 days, but the States decide). Despite these limitations, the digital certificate (the regulation has a ‘sunset clause’: it will last one year starting from 1 July 2021) will ensure the recognition of the results of a test or vaccination carried out in another Member State, which still today, after 15 months of pandemic in Europe, it is not guaranteed (there are countries that do not recognize the results of the swabs if they are not written in their language). And above all, as Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders explained, the regulation “stresses that Member States should refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on certificate holders”, such as quarantines or additional tests, “unless necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health “. In this case, they will have to be “communicated at least 48 in advance” to the Commission and the other Member States, recalls Lopez Aguilar.

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