On the 9th of June 2021, the European Parliament and Council reached to an agreement regarding the implementation of a Covid-19 Certificate. The Parliament's adoption addresses the issues raised by the new coronavirus pandemic, especially regarding the movement of European citizens and 3rd country nationals within the European region. The aim of the European certificate is to facilitate free movement and therefore the gradual elimination of the imposed restrictions, starting on the 1st of July 2021, for a period of 12 months.
The essence of the Regulation concerns the concept of freedom of movement in the Member States of the European Union, which is a fundamental right delimited by the Treaties of the Union and addresses precisely the issues created by the pandemic of the new coronavirus, setting out a clear legal framework determining the cross-border movement of European citizens and 3rd country nationals. The certificate shall establish a common compatible and safe method of identifying 3 types of categories:
- Individuals who have been vaccinated;
- Individuals who have been diagnosed with coronavirus; and
- Individuals who have had a recent negative diagnostic test to ensure that they exercise their right to free movement.
Yet, Member States, under EU law, maintain their right to restrict the right of free movement due to public health, but on the basis of specific and limited reasons of public interest and always on the basis of the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.
The exercise of free movement is vital since the certificate avoids unilateral actions and measures to limit the spreading of the virus, which could potentially impede the functioning of the internal market and the fundamental right to free movement.
The main parameters contained in the Regulation are as follows:
- prevention, exposure, investigation and prosecution of fraud and illegal practices in connection with the issuance and use of such certificates
- equal access to certificates for all citizens of the Union
- simplicity and usability of the certificates and free issuance
- the protection of personal data and digital certificate from possible threats against cyber security
- discrimination on the basis of holding a specific category of certificate; and
- maintenance of fundamental rights and principles covered in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.