The technical infrastructure will be fully operational from June 1, pending the agreement between the European Parliament and governments.
Spain participates from next May 10 in the first phase of technical tests of the Covid passport prepared by the European Union in order to reactivate travel in summer. Each country may request from Brussels an aid of up to 1 million euros to finish financing the implementation of the common certificate, as explained this Friday by community sources.
The Commission assures that the technical infrastructure will be fully operational as of June 1, waiting for the European Chamber and the Governments of the Twenty-seven to reach an agreement on the legislation that will support the Covid passport. An agreement that is scheduled for mid-June.
The Twenty-six have already agreed on the guidelines that describe the main technical specifications for the implementation of the system. An agreement that encompasses the structure of the data and the encoding mechanisms, including the QR code, which will ensure that certificates, whether digital or on paper, can be read and verified across the EU.
The guidelines also describe the EU gateway. Created by the Commission, it will allow electronic signature keys to be shared so that the authenticity of digital green certificates can be verified across the EU. No personal data of the certificate holders will circulate through the gateway, as this is not necessary for verification. This infrastructure has been developed by SAP and T-Systems companies.
The catwalk will be ready to start testing next week. The testing period will begin on May 10 with a first group in which, in addition to Spain, there are 15 other countries: France, Malta, Holland, Luxembourg, Estonia, Sweden, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Iceland and Greece.
A second group of countries will join the system at the end of May: Latvia, Romania, Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Denmark and Slovenia. Finally, there is a third team of States that have decided not to participate in the testing phase: Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Norway and Liechtenstein.
From June 1, the European gateway will now be fully operational and the countries of the first group, including Spain, will be connected and technically prepared to generate and exchange Covid certificates. In mid-June the second group of countries will enter and on the 30th all the remaining countries will be incorporated.
Regarding the legislation, both the governments of the 27 and the European Parliament have agreed on their respective positions. What is missing now is for the two institutions to agree on a common text. Two are the main points of discrepancy. First of all, the European Parliament demands that PCR tests for the Covid passport are free as are vaccines, so that there is no discrimination.
In addition, the European Parliament demands that prohibit Member States from imposing any restrictions on certificate holders, such as quarantines or mandatory isolations. Governments defend that this is a national competence and that the passport only guarantees that there will be no discrimination between European citizens.
This instrument has been driven by the southern countries most dependent on tourism, in particular Spain and Greece. They see it as a vital initiative to save the summer season and reactivate the economy after the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic. The initiative generates many reservations in other Member States, such as France or Belgium, who are opposed to the passport granting special rights to vaccinated people, because the immunized population rate is very low and the injection is not compulsory.