International travel (aka long-awaited foreign holidays) might be an option for some this summer, as the govenment considers the fatcs around the new EU Digital Green Card system.
The system is due to be introducted in June and is expected to pave the way for the re-introduction of travel between all 27 member states.
Here's what the European Commission has to say about the proposed Digital Green card:
The Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, V?ra Jourová says: “The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU. This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection” (source: European Commission website)
But what does this mean for Irish holidaymakers?
According to recent reports in the Irish Independent, the government believes this could allow people in Ireland who are vaccinated to take foreign holidays in other EU countries before the end of the summer.
That is, provided the public health situation remains stable, and the vaccination roll-out is not disrupted.
The scheme still has to be agreed by the EU - so it's likely there will be a lot more news on this topic over the coming weeks.
KEY ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSED DIGITAL GREEN CARD SYSTEM:
Source: European Commission
1. Accessible and secure certificates for all EU citizens
The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates –vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
The certificates will be issued in a digital form or on paper. Both will have a QR code that contains necessary key information as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
The certificates will be available free of charge.
All people – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – should benefit from a Digital Green Certificate when travelling in the EU. To prevent discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only an interoperable vaccination certificate, but also COVID-19 test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
Same right for travellers with the Digital Green Certificate –where Member States accept proof of vaccination to waive certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates issued under the Digital Green Certificate system. This obligation would be limited to vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation, but Member States can decide to accept other vaccines in addition.
Notification of other measures – if a Member State continues to require holders of a Digital Green Certificate to quarantine or test, it must notify the Commission and all other Member States and explain the reasons for such measures.
3. Only essential information and secure personal data
The certificates will include a limited set of information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery and a unique identifier of the certificate. This data can be checked only to confirm and verify the authenticity and validity of certificates.