EU Covid-19 Certificate: a European solution for free testing is needed

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


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 on Tuesday on the proposed Regulation on the EU Covid-19 Certificate, the European Parliament negotiators tabled a compromise package that includes changes regarding the cost of testing and the restrictions to free movement.

The European Parliament 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.

To this end, the European Parliament proposes to use the Emergency Support Instrument and allocate a substantial amount of money to ensure accessible, timely and free of charge testing. This would not be the first time the Emergency Support Instrument in the context of the pandemic: €3.5 billion euros (out of which Member states contributed €750 million) were used for the purchase of vaccines (Advance Purchase Agreements) and €46 million have been allocated for the preparatory work on the Covid-19 Certificate.

As the rollout of the Covid-19 Certificate is urgent, the European Parliament also suggests applying the urgent procedure in order to confirm the use of the Emergency Support Instrument together with the Covid-19 Certificate regulations during the June plenary sessions.

Negotiations among the colegislators will continue on Thursday 20 May, with the aim of concluding an agreement on time for the summer season.

Background

On 17 March, the Commission tabled a proposal for a Regulation on a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate free movement in the EU – 2021/0068 (COD) and an accompanying proposal on third country nationals legally staying or residing in the EU (2021/0071 (COD). In April a large majority of MEPs supported a swift creation of the Digital Green Certificate, which aims to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed to use of the urgent procedure. The Civil Liberties Committee is the committee steering the negotiations with the Council, with its Chair Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR as rapporteur.

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