The compromise was reached at a meeting of the ambassadors of the 27 in Brussels, just four weeks after the European Commission presented its proposal for the creation of a digital laissez-passer to prove vaccination, testing or recovery of Covid-19, a bilingual document with a QR code.

The common position agreed on 14 April by the EU’s permanent representatives for the forthcoming negotiations with the Parliament introduces some changes to the original proposal, notably the emphasis is given in the Council position to the fact that the digital certificate cannot be a precondition for the exercise of free movement rights, to guarantee the principle of non-discrimination, notably towards non-vaccinated persons.

The text adopted by the Council also introduces a new article on the international dimension of the certificate, strengthens provisions on data protection - a matter of particular importance for the European Parliament, and includes a transition clause to ensure that member states can continue to use the systems they currently have in place for a period of six weeks from the entry into force of the new regulation.

For the legal framework to be in place by the summer, there will need to be a closed agreement on the legislative texts by early May at the latest, so that the necessary technological solutions are in place in all Member States in time for the summer season.

The European Parliament is expected to adopt its negotiating position during its plenary session in Brussels from 26-29 April and inter-institutional negotiations - so-called trilogues, bringing together representatives of the Commission, the Council and the assembly could start immediately.

The proposal for a digital certificate was presented a month ago by the EU executive and aims for a common EU-wide approach to the “issuing, verification and acceptance of certificates to facilitate free movement”, severely disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Functioning similarly to a travel boarding pass, this laissez-passer will be available in digital and/or paper format, will have a QR code to be easily read by electronic devices and will be made available free of charge and in the citizen’s national language and in English, according to the European Commission’s proposal.

Both in the digital version (which can be stored on a mobile device such as a mobile phone) and on paper, there will be the QR code with essential information, as well as a digital seal to guarantee the authenticity of the certificate.

It will be up to the national authorities of the Member States to issue these laissez-passer, with Brussels suggesting that this be done, for example by health entities, hospitals or by laboratories.

The idea of creating this digital certificate to enable the recovery of the travel and tourism sector was first mooted earlier this year on the initiative of the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriákos Mitsotákis, and was later supported by the Portuguese head of government, António Costa.