On 1 June 2021, the EU Digital COVID Certificate has reached another important milestone with the go-live of the technical system at EU level, which allows to verify certificates in a secure and privacy-friendly way. The EU certificate was proposed by the Commission to resume safe travelling this summer. It will be free of charge, secure and accessible to all. Available in digital format or on paper, it will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection.
Following the political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the Regulation governing the certificate on 20 May, the technical backbone of the EU systems goes live. Set up in only two months, the EU gateway provides for the verification of the security features contained in the QR codes of all certificates. This will allow citizens and authorities to be sure that the certificates are authentic. During this process, no personal data is exchanged or retained. The go-live of the gateway completes the preparatory work at EU level.
Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said: “The Go-Live of the Gateway today is an important step which will allow Member States to start using the Gateway and start issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates. Seven Member States is a good start. I encourage others to follow as soon as possible. The timely preparation will allow the full system to be up and running by 1 July – when the proposal enters into application and the EU will be on time to open up again this summer.”
The European Commission has built a gateway through which, all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU. The personal data of the certificate holder does not pass through the gateway, as this is not necessary to verify the digital signature. The European Commission also helped Member States to develop national software and apps to issue, store and verify certificates and supported them in the necessary tests to onboard the gateway. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) notes that countries can start issuing and using already and it will become available in all EU Member States as of 1 July. If a Member State is not ready to issue certificates on time, the Regulation provides for a phasing-in period of six weeks, when other formats can still be used and should be accepted in other Member States.
Since 10 May, 22 countries have already tested the gateway successfully. Seven Member States – Bulgaria,Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland – have decided to connect to the gateway and started issuing first EU certificates, while certain countries have decided to launch the EU Digital COVID Certificate only when all functions are deployed nationwide. Therefore, more countries will join in the coming days and weeks. An updated overview is available on a dedicated webpage.
The political agreement of 20 May has to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. The Regulation will enter into application on 1 July, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time. In parallel, the Commission will continue to provide technical and financial support to Member States to on-board the gateway.
Source: European Commission Press Corner