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Establishing the equivalence, for the purpose of facilitating the right of free movement within the Union, of COVID-19 certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the certificates issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Text with EEA relevance)
Recitals

Recitals

COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION (EU) 2021/1895

of 28 October 2021

establishing the equivalence, for the purpose of facilitating the right of free movement within the Union, of COVID-19 certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the certificates issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953 of the European Parliament and of the Council

(Text with EEA relevance)

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,

  • Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,
  • Having regard to Regulation (EU) 2021/953 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2021 on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates (EU Digital COVID Certificate) to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic(1), and in particular Article 8(2) thereof,

Whereas:

  1. Regulation (EU) 2021/953 lays down a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates (EU Digital COVID Certificate) for the purpose of facilitating the holders’ exercise of their right to free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also to contribute to facilitating the gradual lifting of restrictions to free movement put in place by Member States, in accordance with Union law, to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, in a coordinated manner.
  2. Regulation (EU) 2021/953 allows for the acceptance of COVID-19 certificates issued by third countries to Union citizens and their family members where the Commission finds that those COVID-19 certificates are issued in accordance with standards that are to be considered as equivalent to those established pursuant to that Regulation. Furthermore, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/954 of the European Parliament and of the Council(2), Member States are to apply the rules laid down in Regulation (EU) 2021/953 to third-country nationals who do not fall within the scope of that Regulation, but who are legally staying or residing in their territory and who are entitled to travel to other Member States in accordance with Union law. Therefore, any equivalence findings of this Decision should apply to COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Union citizens and their family members. Similarly, on the basis of Regulation (EU) 2021/954, such equivalence findings should also apply to COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to third-country nationals legally staying or residing in the territory of the Member States under the conditions laid down in that Regulation.
  3. On 28 July 2021, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland provided the Commission with detailed information on the issuance of interoperable COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates under a single system entitled UK COVID Certificates. This system comprises four components for England, Wales and the Isle of Man; Jersey and Guernsey; Scotland; and Northern Ireland, respectively entitled Covid Pass, 2D Barcode API, NHS Scotland Covid Status and COVIDCert. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland informed the Commission that it considered that its COVID-19 certificates are being issued in accordance with a standard and a technological system that are interoperable with the trust framework established by Regulation (EU) 2021/953 and that allow for the verification of the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificates. In this regard, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland informed the Commission that COVID-19 certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with the system entitled UK COVID Certificates contain the data set out in the Annex to Regulation (EU) 2021/953.
  4. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also informed the Commission that it accepts vaccination certificates issued by the Member States and EEA countries in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953. In addition, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland informed the Commission that it will treat holders of EU DCC vaccination, recovery and test certificates equally to holders of certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland pointed out that all travellers fully vaccinated with a vaccine recognised by the United Kingdom or with a vaccine having received an EU-wide authorisation are exempt from quarantine and from completing the day 8 test, if they arrive from countries classified using code amber according to their epidemiological situation. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also specified that negative tests and natural immunity following a positive test are not part of its policy to exempt people from quarantine.
  5. On 4 October 2021, following a request by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Commission carried out technical tests that demonstrated that the COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates are issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with the system entitled UK COVID Certificates, that each of these components is interoperable with the trust framework established by Regulation (EU) 2021/953, and allows for the verification of the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificates. The Commission also confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with each component of the system entitled UK COVID Certificates contain the necessary data. The Commission’s assessment is confirmed following the additional notification submitted by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 14 October 2021.
  6. In addition, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland informed the Commission that it issues interoperable vaccination certificates for COVID-19 vaccines. Those vaccines currently include Comirnaty, Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen, Spikevax and Vaxzevria. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland further indicated that it issues vaccination certificates for vaccine candidates undergoing clinical trials to the participants of the trials who have received the vaccine candidates. That currently applies to a vaccine candidate developed by Novavax CZ AS.
  7. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also informed the Commission that it will issue interoperable test certificates only for nucleic acid amplification tests, but not for rapid antigen tests.
  8. Furthermore, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland informed the Commission that it issues interoperable certificates of recovery. Those certificates are valid for not more than 180 days after the date of the first positive test.
  9. In addition, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland informed the Commission that when verifiers in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland verify certificates, the personal data included in them will be processed only to verify and confirm the holder’s vaccination, test result or recovery status and will not be retained afterwards.
  10. The necessary elements for establishing that COVID-19 certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with the system entitled UK COVID Certificates are to be considered as equivalent to those issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953 are thus fulfilled.
  11. Therefore, COVID-19 certificates issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with the system entitled UK COVID Certificates should be accepted under the conditions referred to in Article 5(5), Article 6(5), and Article 7(8) of Regulation (EU) 2021/953.
  12. In order for this Decision to be operational, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate trust framework established by Regulation (EU) 2021/953.
  13. In order to protect the Union’s interests, in particular in the area of public health, the Commission may use its powers to suspend or terminate this Decision if the conditions of Article 8(2) of Regulation (EU) 2021/953 are no longer met.
  14. In order to connect the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the EU Digital COVID Certificate trust framework established by Regulation (EU) 2021/953 as rapidly as possible, this Decision should enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
  15. The measures provided for in this Decision are in accordance with the opinion of the Committee established by Article 14 of Regulation (EU) 2021/953,

HAS ADOPTED THIS DECISION: