MEPs quizzed Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders on the recently proposed Digital Green Certificate and discussed data protection aspects with the European Data Protection Supervisor.

In the Civil Liberties Committee, Commissioner Reynders underscored the proposal’s aim to facilitate free movement and non-discrimination of EU citizens during the pandemic. It provides for the creation of free digital or paper certificates on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and recovery, and would be limited to the pandemic, he stressed.

Reynders reassured MEPs that the Commission is ready to complete the necessary technical infrastructural work by the end of June, and that the certificate would not result in a central database created at the EU level.

Certificate to facilitate free movement without discrimination

Several MEPs warned against the certificate becoming a ‘de facto’ precondition for travelling in Europe, undermining its intended purpose of facilitating free movement. They urged the Commission to remain vigilant and enforce free movement in the face of potential moves by member states.

MEPs also pointed to the lack of consensus around the issue of acquired immunity and noted that the Commission will need to consider future scientific developments and international standards when designing the certificate. The situation of those inoculated with vaccines not currently recognized by European Medicines Agency, was also raised in the discussion.

Several MEPs sought clarifications on the relationship between the EU certificate and similar but separate national initiatives in member states considering their own health certificates. Other MEPs also pointed out that citizens urgently need access to affordable PCR tests in order to avoid potential discrimination against those not vaccinated

The European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski, presented to the committee the joint opinion by the EDPS and the European Data Protection Board on the Commission’s proposal. MEPs stressed the need to have high data protection standards in line with EU data protection rules and privacy by design in technical solutions as well as clear definitions of who is responsible for data collection and processing. Plenary will adopt the EP mandate for negotiations with the Council, which may include amendments, during its next session (26-29 April).