Speech by Commissioner Reynders on the provisional political agreement on the EU Digital COVID Certificate

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Bonjour à toutes et tous.

C’est avec une bonne nouvelle – pour l’ensemble des citoyens européens – que j’ai le plaisir de vous retrouver aujourd’hui en salle de presse.

Hier, les négociateurs du Parlement européen et du Conseil, avec le soutien de la Commission, ont conclu un accord qui garantit à tout citoyen européen de disposer d’un certificat COVID numérique européen pour l’été.

Sur demande des chefs d’États et de gouvernements, la Commission s’est alors emparée du sujet et a proposé une législation le 17 mars dernier.

Aujourd’hui, 2 mois seulement depuis l’adoption de la proposition de la Commission, nous avons un accord avec le Parlement européen et le Conseil.

C’est historique et je suis personnellement fier du travail accompli, par les services et les trois institutions européennes.

Il s’agit d’un délai record pour un accord de cette ampleur. Cela souligne la détermination de toutes les parties concernées pour la protection d’un droit fondamental de l’Union : la libre circulation.  

Nous avons œuvré pour que les citoyens européens puissent circuler plus facilement au sein de l’Union européenne, en toute sécurité sanitaire. Cet outil permettra aussi de soutenir les secteurs de l’économie qui dépendent de la libre circulation.

Une fois de plus, je tiens vraiment à remercier les négociateurs concernés du Parlement et du Conseil, particulièrement le rapporteur Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar et le négociateur pour la Présidence, l’Ambassadeur portugais Nuno Brito, ainsi que toutes les équipes de la Commission qui ont été mobilisées jour et nuit pendant plus de deux mois pour obtenir le succès que nous avons obtenu hier en trilogue.

Now, let me outline the main elements of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

As of the first July, three types of certificates will be available:

  • A certificate of vaccination;
  • A certificate for a negative test;
  • And a certificate of recovery.

All of them will be free of charge, for all EU citizens.

And it will be possible to have them in a digital format on a digital device or to be printed out on paper if you want.

Regarding the cost of the required tests, the Commission will also mobilise an additional 100 million Euros to support Member States in providing affordable tests.

The Regulation also highlights the role of rapid antigen tests as an affordable means to facilitate the issuance of test certificates.

I want to recall that the Commission already organised for Member States a joint procurement over 2.6 billion Euros allowing them to purchase 550 million rapid antigen tests.

In addition, the Commission had already mobilised 100 million Euros to purchase over 20 million rapid antigen tests.

It is also important to recall that the regulation underlines that Member States shall refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU Digital COVID 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.

And as I already said it in the past, Member States may also decide to use our 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.

For example, Member States need to be able to check the validity of a certificate no matter where in the EU it was issued.

To enable this, the Commission set up the EU Gateway where Member States can upload their public signature keys that prove the validity of certificates.

Over the last weeks, this has been put to the test and there are good results from this first pilot phase so far. To this day, 17 Member States and Iceland have successfully tested their connection with the EU Gateway.

But it is entirely in the hands of Member States now to make sure they have the technical capacity in place, including to issue certificates.

All Member States must get fully ready during the month of June, so they can hit the ground running when the Regulation enters into force on 1 July.

The Commission has allocated a million Euros per Member State and we will continue to provide technical support wherever we can.

Because it is in all of our interests to make this work.

Citizens will be able to travel safely. Businesses will be able to benefit from their spending, and transport will be able to operate.

Today we are one step closer to making this happen.

Thank you.

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