On Thursday, the Civil Liberties Committee endorsed proposals to keep the EU Digital COVID Certificate framework in place for another year.
To ensure that EU citizens can benefit from their right to free movement regardless of the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs approved two reports to prolong the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) scheme -set to expire on 30 June- for another 12 months. The reports were adopted with 48 in favour, 16 against and 0 abstaining.
Along with extending the validity of the EUDCC scheme until 30 June 2023, the changes also enable member states to grant test certificates based on new types of antigen assay tests.
Review after six months
MEPs amended the proposals to stress that member states should avoid additional restrictions on the freedom of movement for EUDCC holders, unless absolutely necessary. If restrictions are needed, they should be limited and proportionate, based on the latest scientific advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the EU Health Security Committee.
They also ask the Commission to assess if the EUDCC scheme is necessary and proportionate six months after its extension. MEPs want to shorten the period of application of the Regulation as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.
The creation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) was adopted In June 2021 to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic, for a limited period of 12 months.
Rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “A year ago, we put in place the EU Digital COVID certificate so that unilateral national restrictions would not endanger the right to free movement and equality. We wanted to prevent discrimination between countries of origin, and we wanted this regulation to be time-limited. However, we can only get rid of it once the pandemic is over. Since it is not over yet, we are extending the validity of the scheme, and asking experts to evaluate the situation in six months’ time. Now, people are again travelling across borders in Europe, which shows that the regulation is working.”
The decision of the Civil Liberties Committee to open negotiations with the Council on the legislative proposal will be announced at the opening of next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. If there is an objection, the decision will be put to the vote on Thursday, 5 May.