The European health pass has received a final green light from the European authorities. The regulations governing it will apply from July 1. At the same time, the European Council updated its recommendations for traveling within the Union.
It is from July 1, 2021 that the regulation relating to the European health pass will apply, the official name of which is “EU digital COVID certificate”. No further legislative steps are expected: after the approval of the European Parliament on June 9, the presidents of the three Union institutions (Parliament, Council and Commission) attended the signing of the regulation on June 14.
Countries have until June 30 to enter into this system and interconnect with other Member States, in order to facilitate travel on the Old Continent despite a still degraded health context. It is planned in case a grace period until August 12, if a capital is late – but it will have to accept other formats than this European pass.
It turns out that thirteen nations are already issuing certificates: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain. In the case of France, the connection is not yet made, but European services report that the country is technically ready to connect to the gateway, which is located in Luxembourg.
It is not mandatory to hold the European health pass for travel on the continent. ” All Europeans have the right to move freely, including without the certificate », Indicates the Commission. However, this document ” facilitate travel by exempting holders from restrictions such as quarantine If a period of isolation is required by a country experiencing an outbreak of contamination.
The health pass is not just a vaccination certificate. It can be for people choosing to be immunized against the coronavirus, but this certificate can also accept the result of a negative and recent PCR or antigen test, as well as a certificate of recovery proving that the person has recovered from the disease. coronavirus. The pass is also not a travel document.
New recommendations for travel
On June 14, the European Council, which represents the Member States, also revised its recommendation for travel within the Union. This update, it is explained, incorporates two more criteria to be considered in determining whether free movement, a fundamental right, should be restricted. These criteria are vaccination coverage as well as the prevalence of variants deemed to be of concern or to be monitored.
In the process, the Council also raised the thresholds in which the European zones are classified in order to describe the health situation at a regional level. These thresholds, which each have an associated color, correspond to four degrees of spread of the virus (green, orange, red and dark red). The criteria for each category are detailed on the European Council website.
These thresholds are used to produce a map describing the epidemiological situation on the continent. It is established weekly by the European Center for Disease Prevention & Control. The last version was shared on June 10 and shows that in the case of France, the regions are categorized in the orange and red thresholds. But the situation is improving compared to previous editions.
Updated 🚦 maps are online! These maps aim to support the @EUCouncil recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of #FreeMovement during # COVID19 pandemic.
❗️❗️❗️#IE & #SE data still not available due to a disruption to the national databases. pic.twitter.com/ij9j0mGK9w
– ECDC (@ECDC_EU) June 10, 2021
Recommendations that are not binding
Among the other recommendations made by the Council, which Member States are free to follow or not, there is the exemption from compulsory testing for children under 12, the possibility for a minor not to submit to quarantine or isolation if the person accompanying them is not required to do so, for example because they are vaccinated or recovered.
The Council also considers that possession of a vaccination certificate should also not be subject to quarantine or isolation, if at least two weeks have elapsed after the date of full vaccination – this is indeed after a fortnight that the last injection gives its full potential. Member States could also opt for this strategy from the first dose.
For people coming from a zone or red, the Council considers that the production of a negative test certificate remains an option for the capitals in order to avoid relaunching a possible spread of the virus in a declining region. If that does not work, there is an “emergency braking” mechanism in which everyone is required to be tested, quarantined or isolated, without exception.
Moreover, for the regions in dark red, the Member States should ” continue to strongly discourage all non-essential travel To and from these places. Ditto for areas affected by variants of concern or to be monitored, but also for localities where the spread of the virus is strong, but whose prevalence is unknown due to insufficient sequencing.
In all cases, Member States are requested to coordinate well, even if the decision whether or not to introduce restrictions on free movement in order to protect public health is a matter for each capital. These recommendations do not entail any legal constraints, but following them should make it possible to avoid moving forward in dispersed order, which could favor a possible fourth wave.