Tracing apps will have huge role for lockdown relaxation

EU Telecommunications ministers discussed via videoconference the post-pandemic recovery

Photo: EU Oleg Butković.

The use of tracing apps in tackling the Covid-19 crisis and the role of the digital sector in the post-pandemic recovery were the main topics on the menu of EU Telecommunications ministers during a videoconference on Tuesday, organised by the Croatian Presidency. 

Oleg Butković, Croatian Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, presided the sitting.  Margarethe Vestager, EC Executive Vice-President and Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, also joined the debate. 

Ministers shared the view that the contact tracing apps would have high importance for the gradual relaxation of various national measures, including opening of borders. In this sense, a coordinated approach and the inter-operability at EU level is needed.

The contact tracing and warning apps should have citizens' trust and adequate protection of personal data and privacy in order to attract sufficient uptake rate, they also pointed out.

The Commission highlighted that the reliance on digital technology is key to keeping society running, teleworking, and learning, and that the importance of digital tools is more visible than ever. 

Minister Butković outlined that the Covid-19 outbreak has proven that very high capacity digital infrastructures both at national and EU level are indispensable at such times of crisis. The aim of today’s meeting was to set out the role digitalisation will play in the fight against the pandemic, and the development of the economy through further digitisation, he explained. 

Ministers also accented on the role of the digital sector in the post Covid-19 recovery as well as on measures to incentivise investment in the deployment of new digital infrastructure. They underlined that the digital sector plays a key role in fighting the pandemic and will certainly play a similarly important role in the post-pandemic recovery. 

Thanking the Presidency for organising this important and timely debate, EVP Vestager opined that “if we have learned anything from the last weeks and months, it is the reliance on digital technologies for keeping many essential societal and economic functions running during the confinement.”

On his part, Commissioner Breton said that the rapid spread of the pandemic can only be stopped “if we act together, with urgency, daring, responsibility, but above all in a spirit of unwavering solidarity”. As part of the instruments at our disposal are of course all the digital technologies, including contact tracing apps, which will allow citizens to be alerted of possible contagion in a secure and protected way, wherever they are in the EU, and whatever devices they are using, he stressed.

Telecommunications ministers also spoke on the need to ensure cybersecurity and resilience of digital infrastructure, especially 5G. infrastructure. It has been mentioned as well that public awareness should be raised as regards false information on connections between 5G technology and spreading of the new coronavirus.

After the discussion, Croatian Minister commented that this meeting served as a platform for better coordination for the next steps in the digital sector, including the measures needed to stimulate investment related to the development of new digital infrastructure at EU level.

Similar articles