Digital Green Certificate, a tool to facilitate safe free movement across the EU

, by Inés Flor García

Digital Green Certificate, a tool to facilitate safe free movement across the EU
Photo by Lukas on Unsplash

The European Commission has communicated a plan for a common path to safe and sustained re-opening to recover our European way of life. The covid-19 pandemic continues to be a major global threat, forcing the Member States to extend and impose a wide range of restrictions to control it. These have caused disruption to citizens and supply chains, strongly affecting individuals, families, communities, and businesses alike. To fight back, the Commission believes that ‘conditions must be created across the Single Market’ and by developing a Digital Green Certificate accepted in all EU Member States. This certificate helps ensure that restrictions currently in place are lifted in a coordinated manner.


The prospect for improving conditions magnifies with the introduction of vaccination. As the Commission states, vaccination ‘is our principal means to combat the virus’. Evidence shows that those population groups that have been vaccinated are more protected against the virus. When and how restrictions will be lifted depends on the swift and effective management in vaccine supply and deployment by the Member States. In efforts to make the re-opening sustainable and coherent for EU citizens, the Commission is working alongside the HERA Incubator to anticipate the threat of new covid-19 variants.

European cooperation is a must

The Commission invites all Member States to endorse a common approach in mapping a safe and sustainable re-opening. The steps towards a coordinated approach will lead to a faster, cheaper, more convincing, and sustainable suppression of the virus. As the Commission puts it, ‘reopening in a coordinated manner ensures the continuity of the internal market’ which cannot be separated from the economic and social life of Europeans. Lack of cooperation limits the re-opening’s success and aggravates the economic dimension and social mobility across the EU.

When is the right time to re-open?

In the year 2020, a lesson to act proactively was learned. Now that vaccination comes into play, the Commission underlines the need to anticipate future problems by assessing vaccination’s influence in suppressing the virus and reducing infections. The right time to re-opening will be when there is robust evidence indicating pragmatic control over the virus. Decision-making processes are to be guided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) into establishing a common framework to action.

Digital Green Certificate

Lifting restrictions across the EU restores mobility freedom as well as other fundamental rights without discrimination. For that, the Commission presents a legislative proposal establishing a common framework for a Digital Green Certificate. The certificate is digital proof that a person has been vaccinated against covid-19, has received a negative test result, or has recovered from the virus. Some characteristics of the certificate are that it has a digital format, contains a QR code, is free of charge, appears in the national language or English, and is valid in all EU countries. The QR code contains a digital seal that gives the certificate authenticity and security.

Data privacy

The Digital Green Certificate gathers personal information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, and relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery, which could raise privacy concerns. According to the Commission, the certificate contains a limited set of information that cannot be retained by visited countries. The certificate can only be used for verification purposes. Health data information may only remain with the Member State that issued the certificate in the first place.

In practice

The European Commission visualises the Digital Green Certificate in practice. We are either vaccinated, tested, or recovering from covid-19 when the entity in question issues our digital certificate. Then we receive it in paper or digitally where the signature key can be verified and rendered authentic and valid.


Communication from the Commission - A common path to safe and sustained re-opening:

Digital Green Certificate factsheet:

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