Croatia and 12 other EU countries have agreed on the criteria for the bloc’s planned Covid-19 passport, the Digital Green Certificate, which is expected to facilitate the movement of tourists during the pandemic, Austrian officials said in Vienna on Monday.
The goal is to introduce the Digital Green Certificate as soon as possible, hopefully in a unified format across the EU, Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger told the Austrian news agency APA.
The minister noted that this was a matter of life and death for European tourism.
Croatia, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain agreed in late March on seven criteria for issuing the green certificate, which the EU is hoping to launch by June.
The certificate would contain a QR code with information on whether its holder has been vaccinated, tested for Covid-19 or recovered from the virus. This would make application simple and practical across the EU, from check-ins at airports to visits to the village pub, Köstinger said.
She stressed that officials want to avoid the document being construed as a way of forcing the pubic to take the vaccines. Sensitive medical information about the carrier of the document would remain in his or her home country and would not be saved in any kind of central EU database. The next step is to harmonize the use of the certificate with third countries. The list of criteria has been forwarded to the European Commission for consideration. The Commission is expected to make a decision in the coming days.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that he was confident the Digital Green Certificate could be in use by summer, given the quantities of the vaccines that are expected to be delivered. The EU is hoping to have 50% of its population vaccinated by the end of June.
Commenting on the deal reached by Croatia and twelve other member states, the PM said it was encouraging and that it would speed up the process, but he was not sure the June target would be met.
“These procedures take some time. The policy needs to be written into law, so it has to go through the regular procedure,” Pleknović said.
Regarding the tourism season, Plenković said Croatia was still far from being able to expect a strong season at this time. He did say he was confident the measures that are being undertaken by local public health authorities would yield results. With the planned vaccine deliveries, 55% of the adult population could be vaccinated by the end of June.
“Had we received from Astra Zeneca what was planned, we would have 70% by then and we would have a higher percentage now, as many other EU member states do,” he said.