EP negotiators push for emergency tool to ensure free Covid-19 certificate tests

The Parliament sees it as a way to be restored EU citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of movement

Photo: EP Nuno Brito, Ambassador of Portugal to the EU, Juan Fernando López Aguilar and Didier Reynders (L-R) before the start of the trilogue talks.

The third round of trilogue negotiations on the EU Covid-19 certificate regulation, which ended in the early hours of Wednesday, left some open questions, but the desire of the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission is for a deal to be reached by the end of this week. The talks will continue on Thursday.

As the LIBE Committee press service announced, the EP negotiators want to use the Emergency Support Instrument in order to provide citizens with accessible and free of charge testing for the purpose of the new EU Covid-19 certificate.

During the third round of negotiations that started on Tuesday, the EP negotiators tabled a compromise package that includes changes regarding the cost of testing and the restrictions to free movement. In some EU countries, test prices are too high, especially for young people.

The EP calls for a European solution to facilitate free testing, as a way to restore EU citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of movement, avoid discrimination and provide an alternative to those people who have not been vaccinated.

The Parliament proposes to use the Emergency Support Instrument and allocate a substantial amount of money to ensure accessible, timely and free of charge testing. Already €3.5bn, out of which Member States contributed €750m, from this tool were used for the purchase of vaccines through Advance Purchase Agreements and €46m have been allocated for the preparatory work on the Covid-19 certificate.

The EP also proposes applying the urgent procedure as to confirm the use of the Emergency Support Instrument together with the Covid-19 certificate regulations during the June plenary sessions.

Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the LIBE Committee and EP negotiator, commented that the Parliament wants the Council to be aware that the cost of PCR tests is prohibitive for the European citizens to really be back to a fully operational Schengen, based on free movement. “We want them to care about that,” he stressed.

López Aguilar also specified that the certificate should prevent Member States from imposing additional restrictions.

We definitely need to be ready for June with the regulation and the technical tool, Didier Reynders, EU Commissioner for Justice, stated.

“We are advancing really good with the technical tool”, the Commissioner said adding that the Council and Parliament, after technical discussions are trying to reach an agreement on the few remaining problems, particularly concerning the accessibility of tests.

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