In order 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 has approved two reports aimed at extending the EU COVID Digital Certificate Scheme (EUDCC) – set to expire June 30 – for a further 12 months. The reports were adopted by 48 votes for, 16 against and 0 abstentions.
In addition to extending the validity of the EUDCC program until June 30, 2023, the amendments also allow member states to grant test certificates based on new types of antigen assays.
Review after six months
MEPs amended the proposals to emphasize that Member States should avoid additional restrictions on the freedom of movement of EUDCC holders unless absolutely necessary. If restrictions are necessary, they must be limited and proportionate, based on the latest scientific advice from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the EU Health Security Committee.
They also ask the Commission to assess whether 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 it.
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 introduced the EU Digital COVID certificate so that unilateral national restrictions do not jeopardize the right to free movement and legality. We wanted to prevent discrimination between countries of origin and we wanted this settlement to be time-limited. However, we can only get rid of it once the pandemic is over. As it is not over yet, we are extending the validity of the device and asking experts to assess the situation in six months. Now people are crossing borders again in Europe, which shows that the regulation is working. »
The Civil Liberties Committee’s decision to open negotiations with the Council on the legislative proposal will be announced at the opening of next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. In case of objection, the decision will be put to the vote on Thursday 5 May.