Commission will mobilise extra €100m for providing affordable tests

The three types of Covid certificates will be available from 1 July

Photo: EU Didier Reynders.

The eventual final adoption of the regulation about the EU Digital COVID Certificate, as its new name is, is expected in about three weeks, after the negotiators from the EP and the Council reached a provisional deal on Thursday evening.

Talking at a press conference on Friday about the provisional political agreement on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said that it would allow citizens to travel safely, businesses - to benefit from their spending, and transport - to operate.

He announced that as of 1 July will be available three types of certificates: for vaccination, for a negative test and a certificate of recovery. The certificates, in a digital form or on paper, will be free as such for all EU citizens.

When it comes to the price of the required tests, the Commission will mobilise an additional €100m to support Member States in providing affordable tests, and as the Commissioner clarifies this money will be used for rapid antigen tests.

The Regulation also highlights the role of rapid antigen tests as an affordable means to facilitate the issuance of test certificates, he said recalling that the Commission already organised for Member States a joint procurement over €2.6bn allowing them to purchase 550 million rapid antigen tests. The Commission had already mobilised €100m to purchase over 20 million rapid antigen tests.

It was clarified that validity period for recovery certificate will be 180 days and it will be issued on the basis of positive result from PCR test, which detects the disease, not antibodies’ level.

The Commissioner pointed out that the regulation underlines that Member States shall refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.

The weekly colour-coded map of the ECDC and the previous Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to free movement restrictions will be particularly relevant in this context.

Commissioner Reynders specified that Member States may also decide to use this certificate for national purposes, if this is provided for in national law.

In the spirit of maximum efficiency, the Commission has also been working with Member States in parallel on the technical side, he explained.

Commissioner Reynders added that EU countries need to be able to check the validity of a certificate no matter where in the EU it was issued, so the Commission set up the EU Gateway where Member States can upload their public signature keys that prove the validity of certificates. He outlined that over the last weeks, this has been put to the test and there are good results from this first pilot phase so far.

Up to now, 17 Member States and Iceland have successfully tested their connection with the EU Gateway, but as the Commissioner noted “it is entirely in the hands of Member States to make sure they have the technical capacity in place, including to issue certificates”.

The EU executive has allocated €1m per Member State and will continue to provide technical support.

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