European Union works on a common approach to vaccination certificates and will come back following months to this issue to save summer 2021. All leaders agreed the COVID-19 crisis is not yet over. It is time to start strengthening EU future health resilience now. For the time being, non-essential travel needs to be restricted but vaccine certificates could save summer vacations.
President von der Leyen touched upon the question of vaccination certificates where she acknowledged there were still many open issues. “The decision on what you are able to do potentially with such a vaccination certificate is to be decided particularly within each country. But at the EU level, I believe we should use them to ensure the functioning of the Single Market,” she said.
Von der Leyen offered that the Commission coordinates on the standards, similarly to tracing apps. EU also creates a gateway that connects the different national solutions with each, other so that this information is interoperable over time.
Von der Leyen at the Summit video conference
On the vaccination certificates: Indeed, we discussed this topic. As you know, there are still a number of open questions, political questions. The first one is of course what these certificates will be used for. But there are also scientific questions that are still open. It is still unclear whether you can transmit the disease, even if you are vaccinated. Although, that is a concern that will wane as the vaccination rate increases. We have promising data from Israel where the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine shows that when you are fully vaccinated with a double shot, you are no more transmitting the disease. So finally, the decision on what you are able to do potentially with such a vaccination certificate is to be decided particularly within each country.
But at the EU level, I believe we should use them to ensure the functioning of the Single Market. And the good news is: We do not start from scratch. At the end of January, the Member States, with the support of the Commission, agreed on what kind of data are needed for such a vaccination certificate for medical purposes. So very simple: it is a uniform content – which kind of vaccine has been used – ; it is a unique identifier – like an IBAN code – ; and a minimum dataset that is necessary for each certificate.