The Member States of the European Union unanimously agreed on Thursday to a recommendation establishing a common framework for the use of rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 and mutual recognition of results throughout the Union.
According to a note released earlier this evening by the Council, this recommendation, which is not legally binding but merely sets out “good practices” which the 27 are encouraged to follow, was “negotiated in the relevant Council bodies and adopted under the Portuguese presidency” by written procedure and followed the will expressed by EU heads of state and government last December.
At a European Council held on 10 and 11 December 2020, European leaders invited the European Commission to present a proposal for a Council recommendation on a common framework for rapid antigen tests and mutual recognition of test results.
Key components of this recommendation include the validation and mutual recognition of rapid antigen tests and PCR tests between the Member States, the sharing of a standardised series of data, preferably through a digital platform, the development of a common list of rapid antigen tests for Covid-19, and the prioritisation of situations for the use of such tests, such as close contacts with confirmed cases, among others.
Today’s unanimous endorsement of the 27 was at the EU Council – under Portuguese presidency in the first half of this year – on the sidelines of a meeting of heads of state and government of the Union which started this evening by videoconference, devoted to the coordinated fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, sources at the European Council told reporters.
At this virtual summit, still taking place at 20:00 local time in Brussels (19:00 in Lisbon), European leaders are mainly discussing a “common approach” to vaccination certificates and the acceleration of the vaccination campaign in the Member States.
Heads of state and government are trying to define what use can be made of vaccination certificates when some countries – such as Portugal and Greece – are calling for vaccinated individuals to be able to travel freely within the EU.
The vaccination process will also be one of the issues on the table at today’s summit, after the European Commission asked the Member States on Tuesday to vaccinate 70% of their adult populations by the summer, at a time when new Covid-19 strains are emerging, and cases are increasing across the EU.
According to the French agency AFP this afternoon, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused at least 2,075,698 deaths from over 96.8 million infections worldwide.
According to the most recent health bulletin, in Portugal, 9,686 people have died out of 595,149 confirmed cases of infection.