Dear Presidents, Presidency, Commissioner, Chair,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this day, 36 years ago, the Schengen Agreement was signed. Five Member States at that time decided to open their borders to one another. This was the beginning of what today is for many, many citizens one of the biggest achievements of Europe: the possibility to travel freely within our Union. Today, the European Digital COVID Certificate reassures us of this spirit of an open Europe, a Europe without barriers, but also a Europe that is slowly but surely opening up after a most difficult time - the pandemic.
This Certificate is a symbol of an open and digital Europe. We developed this Certificate in record time. It will make travel in our Union easier. And it will give Europeans back the freedoms they value and cherish so much. The European Certificate is safe, it is secure and it is for free. Citizens who are vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19, or have a negative test result will have the right to receive it. And it must be recognised everywhere within the European Union.
As of 1 July, these rules become applicable in all Member States. We can be very proud of this achievement. And I want to thank everyone who made it possible. Above all, of course, the Presidency, Ambassador Brito; the European Parliament, Chair López Aguilar; and the Commission, here the Commissioner Reynders. I thank you very much for this amazing work that has been done. You have found an agreement on our Commission's proposal in just two months, 62 days. So this is absolutely record time, I hope we will repeat that soon.
With this Certificate, the European Union is also showing its leadership in the digital age. The Commission has set up a gateway that will allow Member States to verify that the Certificates are authentic all across Europe. And I am particularly happy that mid-week, at least 15 Member States will be connected. They are linked live to our EU structure and they start issuing Certificates. So further countries will then join in the coming days.
Overall, thanks to the success of the European Vaccination Strategy and thanks to the success of this work on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, we can look forward towards a good summer. We can look forward towards travelling safely. And we will bring back the spirit of an open Europe. Our Union is delivering.