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Following the European Medicines Agency's safety committee's review of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca at its extraordinary meeting of 18 March 2021, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, made the following statement:

Ahead of the meeting of European leaders on 25 March, the Commission is calling on Member States to prepare for a coordinated approach to a gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions when the epidemiological situation will allow. In a Communication adopted today, it charts the way ahead for a balanced policy and common EU approach, pointing to what we need to do to advance the time when we can recover our European way of life, and do so in a safe and sustainable way with control over the virus.

Today the European Commission is proposing to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate.

Today, the Commission released key data on the behaviour of consumers in 2020. The results of a survey, conducted at the end of 2020, illustrate the impact the COVID-19 crisis had on consumption patterns, with consumers shopping closer to home or supporting local businesses. At the same time, they made ‘greener' choices: consumers were willing to pay more for a product that is more durable.  The findings will be discussed during this year's European Consumer Summit on 15 March 2021. This day also marks the European Consumer Day.     

The Commission has today extended until end of June the transparency and authorisation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccine exports. This follows persistent delays in some of the deliveries of vaccines to the EU.

Today, the European Commission has granted a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and the fourth COVID-19 vaccine authorised in the EU.

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