EU Watch

​Everything You Need To Know About The EU Digital Green Certificate

A brief background about your most important summer gear.

by Orsolya Reich

What is the EU Digital Green Certificate?

The Digital Green Certificate (DGC) - formally known as the EU Digital COVID Certificate, or less formally the Digital Green Pass - will be a standardized certificate you can use when crossing internal borders to prove, if needed, that you are vaccinated, recently tested for the coronavirus, or that you have recovered from a coronavirus infection.

Why will the Digital Green Certificate be good for you?

It can certainly make your life easier and more stress-free. You do not need to worry that a border control officer will find the certificate from your local test center unacceptable for some reason. If you are already fully vaccinated and have a smartphone, it will give you an easy and quick way to prove that you are good to go -- without needing to worry that your yellow booklet will get lost while you are travelling.

Why do the authorities want the Digital Green Certificate?

Forgery is a real problem. Already back in February, Europol issued an Early Warning Notification on the illicit sales of false negative COVID-19 test certificates. These days you can hear about yellow WHO booklets and vaccination stickers being available on the black market. It is hoped that the DGC will be less easy to forge.

Will it only be used for travelling or will you be able to use a GDC to enter pubs or museums?

It seems that you will be able to use DGC to enter pubs and museums. Some EU member states has already introduced or are in the process of introducing national certificates for such purposes. You may have looked at this development with horror, thinking that your summer vacation plans are doomed. How on Earth are you supposed to get hold of the national certificate of the country you are planning to spend a couple of relaxing weeks in? Good news: you do not need to worry about this. EU member state countries will be required to accept your EU DCC the same way they will accept their national certificates.

Why are watchdog organisations like Liberties interested in the Digital Green Certificate?

While we find the DGC you will receive in the coming months to be in line with human rights and European values, without our work it may not have turned out this way. The original plan of the DGC presented by the European Commission in March was well-intentioned, but it did not prevent possible surveillance of certificate holders, and it could have badly increased existing inequalities and social exclusion.

What did Liberties do about the Digital Green Certificate?

Liberties and made sure that European legislators understood what the major problems with the original plan were. Liberties sent two policy briefs ((1) and (2)) to the Parliament and the Commission in the early stages of the legislative process, focusing mostly on the need of avoiding a two-tier society from further developing in Europe.

In April, Liberties and took the lead in the human rights and digital rights community, and sent an open letter signed by 28 organisations urging legislators to mind anti-discrimination and privacy aspects when setting up a European pass system.

Later, we wrote a paper for the so-called trialogue negotiations (where the different EU institutions discuss how to proceed and agree on the steps to take), comparing the different ideas the European institutions put forward and explaining which should be agreed on and why.

What did we achieve?

The text that will be discussed and foreseeably approved by the European Parliament in a matter of days shows a great improvement to the original plan. For one, the regulation on the DGC includes a clear sunset clause of 12 months – which means that it is very unlikely that for the rest of your life you will have to carry yet another pass with you whenever you want to go about your daily life. In addition, reports that the danger that issuing authorities could collect data on your movements and misuse those for their own purposes is gone.

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The DGC is very mindful of your privacy rights, and it does not give more data about you to anyone than what is absolutely needed for the purposes it was introduced. Liberties highly appreciates that the DGC will be easily accessible even to those who do not own smartphones or have difficulties in submitting requests to the authorities. While we believe that in order to avoid the discrimination of the unvaccinated, easily accessible and free testing should be provided to all, we appreciate that funds will be committed to ensure affordable testing.

Previously on Liberties

The 'Digital Green Pass': Is It Safe and Inclusive?

Three Reasons Why A Vaccine Passport Is a Bad Idea

Three Ways The EU Could Prevent Vaccine Roll-Out Creating Two-Tier Societies

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