The EU’s digital COVID-19 certificate was due to expire this summer. However, EU lawmakers have backed proposals by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee to extend the scheme until June 2023.
This follows advice from the LIBE committee in April, which endorsed calls for extending the COVID certificate to make sure free movement is guaranteed going forward.
COVID certificates were introduced to make travel easier for citizens in EU countries, as many countries had adopted border restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
The certificates, which came into force in June 2021, mean that, in most cases, fully vaccinated travelers were able to travel freely – with some countries requiring a booster dose; or, visitors can present a negative PCR test. These rules still vary between countries, though.
Having a certificate in place has made these rules easier to enforce. But, now that restrictions have been lifted in most countries as infection rates fall, MEPs have made the decision to extend the use of certificates to ensure that people can continue to move freely.
The decision was made with 432 votes in favour, 130 against, and 23 abstentions, with Parliament’s Eurosceptic group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the Identity and Democracy (ID) group being against the proposal.
According to the text, a digital certificate can be issued for citizens with a negative PCR or antigenic test, where the original rules stated that only a PCR test could be accepted.
Additionally, it was decided that having a digital COVID-19 certificate will be the only condition for entering another EU country, except in cases where it’s “absolutely necessary” to implement other restrictions on entry.
This will be reassessed in six months, and lawmakers will then consider whether a certificate for travel would still be needed based on official health advice from experts at that time.
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