The Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) gave unanimous support to a political agreement with the European Parliament on a new EU digital Covid certificate.
The aim is to facilitate safe and free movement during the pandemic by providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus.
The certificate, which will be in use by 1 July, will be available in digital and paper format, contain a QR code and be issued free of charge. It is not a precondition for exercising free movement rights and it is not a travel document.
Portugal prime minister António Costa said: “The certificate is an important step towards a more normal, freer and safer life during the pandemic.
“It will facilitate the free movement of all Europeans, starting this summer. And it shows once again that the EU delivers.
“Member states will need to remain vigilant with regard to the epidemiological situation so that movement in the EU is safe, but at the same time our societies and economies can gradually recover.”
Affordable and accessible EU measures
According to the Council of the EU, member states are encouraged to ensure that tests are affordable and widely available.
100 million euros will be available for the purchase of tests across the EU under the Emergency Support Instrument scheme.
Additional funding may be further approved.
The Council of the EU showed it is giving national governments freedom to decide whether travellers with a certificate have to quarantine or get tested.
They only advised countries to avoid imposing additional travel restrictions such as testing or quarantine, unless they are ‘proportionate’ and ‘necessary’ to safeguard public health.
They said member states should inform other countries of any new travel restrictions at least 48 hours in advance, and clarify the reasons for the restrictions.
UK not exactly encouraging freedom of movement
They have to do this even if they are fully vaccinated, and also quarantine for 10 days.
But the day two and day eight test results which are required are reportedly not arriving to some people’s homes.
This means they are forced into quaranting for 14 days instead through no fault of their own.
NHS worker Sheeva Weil told TLE: “There is a premium on leaving the country and you can only leave if you can afford it. It’s really upsetting to expect people to pay at least £100 per test, when I know that they don’t cost as much.”
And Brussels-based Jane Rackham, who was previously visiting her 92-year-old mum Polly monthly, has to choose between wasting a fortune or abandoning her mother who need help with appointments and house chores.
Jane said: “Before, it was costing me £100 a month and now it’s over £500.”
She said Belgium supplies them for free and it’s just the UK that is the ‘thief’ of Europe.
UK travellers also face a lot of uncertainty, with Tory politicians repeatedly making confusing statements about travel rules.