The European Court of Auditors (ECA) said recently that the EU’s digital Covid-19 certificate helped facilitate travel in the Covid era but other tools did not.
According to the ECA report, the EU Digital Covid Certificate (EUDCC) helped coordinate travel restrictions between EU member states allowing travel to continue during the pandemic. More than 1.7 billion certificates had been issued by the end of March 2022.
However other tools such as the PLF location forms did not have the desired results. According to the report, the EU allocated 71 million euros for the development of IT tools that would facilitate travel and help trace positive Covid-19 cases such as a contact-tracing gateway, the digital passenger locator forms (PLF) and a platform for member states to exchange information as well as the digital Covid certificate. The legality of the EU’s digital Covid certificate expires in June.
However, there was no consistent use of the tools by EU governments resulting in an uneven impact.
“It was crucial that all EU countries adopt common tools to coordinate free movement restrictions and facilitate travel despite the unprecedented situation we were faced with”, said Baudilio Tomé Muguruza, the ECA member responsible for the audit. “Not all EU tools were taken up by member states and the success of the EU Digital Covid Certificate was not reflected in other tools.”
Indicatively, the digital Covid certificate was the only tool used in all member states as well as by 45 non-EU countries and territories.
The auditors go on to add in their report, that the European Commission failed to manage resistance by certain EU states to use the tools due to data protection and other legal concerns.
The auditors are now calling on member countries to better prepare for the possibility of future emergencies. They cite lack of specific procedures for the use of these tools in the longer term, or for re-activating them quickly in the event that they are needed again.