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What is InvestEU?

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The InvestEU Programme will bring together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments currently available to support investment in the EU, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible.

The InvestEU Programme consists of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal. It will further boost job creation and support investment and innovation in the EU.

InvestEU will run between 2021 and 2027 and it builds on the success of the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) by providing an EU budget guarantee to support investment and access to finance in the EU. InvestEU aims to trigger at least €650 billion in additional investment.

The InvestEU Fund will support four policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills. InvestEU will also be flexible: it will have the ability to react to market changes and policy priorities that change over time.

The InvestEU Advisory Hub will provide technical support and assistance to help with the preparation, development, structuring and implementation of projects, including capacity building.

The InvestEU Portal will bring together investors and project promoters by providing an easily-accessible and user-friendly database.

Why do we need InvestEU?

The investment conditions in Europe have improved since the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan, was launched, thanks to structural reforms carried out by the Member States, a more a favourable economic situation and interventions such as EFSI. To help investment recover further, InvestEU will continue the work of the Juncker Plan to mobilise public and private resources in the EU. It will help to address market failures and investment gaps to foster jobs and growth and to reach EU policy goals such as sustainability, scientific excellence and social inclusion.

How will the InvestEU Fund work?

The InvestEU Fund will mobilise public and private investment through an EU budget guarantee of €38 billion that will back the investment projects of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and other financial partners, and increase their risk-bearing capacity. The financial partners are expected to contribute at least €9.5 billion in risk-bearing capacity. The guarantee will be provisioned at 40%, meaning that €15.2 billion of the EU budget is set aside in case calls are made on the guarantee.

The InvestEU Fund will be implemented through financial partners who will invest in projects using the EU guarantee. The main partner will be the EIB Group, which has successfully implemented and managed EFSI since its launch in 2015. In addition to the EIB Group, International Financial Institutions active in Europe – such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Developments (EBRD), the World Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank – and National Promotional Banks will have direct access to the EU guarantee.

The InvestEU Fund will also feature a Member State compartment for each policy area, meaning that Member States may add to the EU guarantee’s provisioning by voluntarily channelling some of their Cohesion Policy funds to these compartments. Like this, Member States will benefit from the EU guarantee and its high credit rating, giving national and regional investments more firepower.

What’s the advantage compared to the status quo, especially for the final beneficiaries?

Creating one coherent programme benefits from economies of scale. It achieves greater risk diversification, has a more integrated governance structure, and mainstreams cross-sectorial policies, bringing a multitude of instruments under one single structure. Using a budget guarantee – and not only financial instruments or grants – can help increase the impact of public funds. In this way we can do more with less.

The new approach also helps to reduce uncertainty for final beneficiaries and financial intermediaries about which instrument is the best for them.

Under the InvestEU Fund, there will be a single programme with a strong identity and a single set of coherent requirements (for eligibility, monitoring and reporting), which will apply throughout the financing chain to the benefit of financial intermediaries and final beneficiaries. InvestEU will eliminate overlaps and ensure synergies both for financing and advisory services. The InvestEU Advisory Hub will integrate 13 different advisory services into a one-stop-shop.

Also, when blending grants from other programmes like Horizon Europe, the Single Market Programme or the Connecting Europe Facility with support from InvestEU, InvestEU rules will apply for the entire project. This is a major simplification compared to today.

What will InvestEU finance?

The InvestEU Fund will be market-based and demand-driven. By crowding-in private investors, it will help achieve the EU’s ambitious goals in sustainability, scientific excellence and social inclusion. Investments will come under four policy areas, which represent important policy priorities for the Union and bring high EU added value:

  • sustainable infrastructure;
  • research, innovation and digitisation;
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps;
  • social investment and skills.

The budget guarantee is divided between the policy areas as follows:

Sustainable infrastructure:  €11.5 billion

Research, innovation and digitisation: €11.25 billion

SMEs:   €11.25 billion

Social investment and skills:  €4 billion

The Commission can adjust these amounts by up to 15% in each policy window to adapt to evolving policy priorities and market demand.

Who will manage InvestEU?

As in the case of EFSI, a Steering Board will give strategic direction on programme implementation. It will be composed of the Commission (four members), the EIB Group (three members) and other implementing partners (two members – International Financial Institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or National Promotional Banks), as well as a non-voting expert appointed by the European Parliament. The Steering Board will strive to take its decisions by consensus.

An Advisory Board will assist the Steering Board. It is composed of representatives of implementing partners (one member each) and Member States (one member each). The agreement between the European Parliament and the Council extends membership to the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee (one member each). The Commission will be able to consult this board when preparing and designing new financial products or to follow market developments and share information. This Advisory Board will be able to issue recommendations to the Steering Board on the implementation and functioning of the InvestEU programme.

An Investment Committee will approve the individual guarantee requests. This Committee is composed of external experts selected in an open process, and remunerated by the EU budget. The Investment Committee will be assisted by a secretariat, which will be staffed by and located in the Commission. The secretariat will provide administrative support for the organisation of meetings, agendas, minutes and interact with the implementing partners as appropriate to ensure the files transmitted to the Investment Committee are complete.

The EIB as the strategic partner may send its guarantee requests directly to the Investment Committee. This will be subject to notification to the secretariat, based in the Commission, which will assume all horizontal tasks and handle the guarantee requests of all other implementing partners.

Who will choose the InvestEU projects?

Just as is the case under EFSI, the Investment Committee will select projects based on compliance with the eligibility criteria set by the Regulation as well as the Investment Guidelines, with a specific focus on additionality.

Members of the Investment Committee will be external experts with expertise from the relevant sectors. The Committee will meet in four different configurations corresponding to the policy windows.

The Committee’s decisions will be made independently, with no political interference.

In practice, Commission services will first verify the consistency of the proposed operations with EU law and policies. Projects passing this initial check will be passed on to the Investment Committee.

The Investment Committee will approve the use of the EU guarantee for financing and investment operations, taking its decision after assessing the project scoreboard presented by the implementing partners. Just as under EFSI, all decisions approving the use of the EU guarantee will be publicly available.

What will be the InvestEU eligibility criteria?

InvestEU projects must:

  • address market failures or investment gaps and be economically-viable
  • need EU backing in order to get off the ground
  • achieve a multiplier effect and where possible crowd-in private investment
  • help meet EU policy objectives.

The eligibility criteria are defined in the Financial Regulation.

Why does EFSI cease to exist? Why not just create an EFSI 3.0?

EFSI was launched in July 2015 to boost investment and stimulate economic growth and employment in the EU, at a time when Europe was still recovering from the financial and economic crisis. It was originally foreseen to have a short investment period to maximise the impact, until July 2018. Due to its success, EFSI was expanded in size and extended in duration in December 2017. Its investment period now lasts until end-2020, the end of the current long-term budget, or Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). No new investments can be undertaken under EFSI after 2020 but – as with most EU financial instruments – the liabilities run for much longer.

The InvestEU Programme builds on the success of EFSI, and will continue to create and support jobs across the EU by following the same model based on an EU budget guarantee.

Is InvestEU taking budget from other financing programmes? What will happen to programmes like COSME and InnovFin?

The InvestEU Fund will bring under one roof the 14 EU financial instruments currently supporting investment in the EU, giving it a single, strong brand. The InvestEU Fund will capture the objectives of existing instruments such as COSME and InnovFin and be able to boost investments even further thanks to the larger scale and efficiencies of the single InvestEU Fund. The four InvestEU Fund policy areas place emphasis on areas of strategic importance for the EU, with €11.25 billion each of the guarantee earmarked for small businesses and a further €11.25 billion earmarked for research, innovation and digitisation.

Can InvestEU financing be blended with EU grants?

Yes. Blending can be necessary in some situations to underpin investments in order to address particular market failures or investment gaps. The InvestEU Fund can be combined with grants or financial instruments, or both, funded by the centrally managed Union budget or by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) Innovation Fund. Such combinations can create advantages for project promoters in sectors such as transport, research and digital. When a project uses EU grants and InvestEU, the InvestEU rules will apply for the entire project. This means a single rulebook and a major simplification compared to today.

What will be the risk profile of investments? What type of investments will the InvestEU Fund be targeting compared to today’s financial instruments?

The InvestEU Fund will target economically viable projects in areas where there are market failures or investment gaps. The InvestEU Fund instruments will seek to attract commercial financing to a wide range of operations and beneficiaries and will only support projects where financing could not be obtained at all or not at the required terms without InvestEU Fund support. It will also target higher risk projects in specific areas.

In addition, InvestEU places more emphasis on social investment and skills. The allocation for budgetary guarantees and financial instruments in the social sector under the current long-term EU budget amounts to €2.2 billion whereas InvestEU allocates €4 billion of the EU guarantee to this policy area, almost doubling what is currently available.

What is the expected multiplier effect for InvestEU? How do you expect to reach €650 billion?

Due to InvestEU targeting higher risk innovation projects and SMEs, as well as the greater focus on EU policy objectives, we expect a slightly more conservative multiplier effect than under EFSI: 13.7 rather than 15. That is to say that for every public euro that is mobilised through the Fund, €13.7 of total investment, that would not have happened otherwise, is generated.

The €15.2 billion budget earmarked for InvestEU allows the EU budget to provide a guarantee of €38 billion. In addition, each financial partner will be expected to contribute some resources to ensure alignment of interest, adding an estimated total of €9.5 billion, so the total guarantee will be around €47.5 billion. This in turn will be leveraged by each financial partner. This means they can lend more than the guarantee amount. Finally, each InvestEU-backed project will attract other private and public investors, as we have seen under the Juncker Plan, and we expect this will trigger at least €650 billion in total investment.

Why is the InvestEU Fund open to other financial partners? Why not work exclusively with the EIB Group, like with EFSI?

Given its role as the EU’s public bank, its capacity to operate in all Member States, and its experience in managing EFSI, the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group will remain the Commission’s main financial partner under InvestEU and implement 75% of the €38 billion guarantee. It will also play an important role in the programme governance and implementation. For the remaining 25%, International Financial Institutions and National Promotional Banks, which can offer specific expertise and experience, can become financial partners, subject to conditions.

Opening up the possibility to benefit from the EU guarantee to other institutions is driven by the fact that there are other experienced potential financial partners in the EU, which have specific financial or sectorial expertise, deep knowledge of their local market or greater capacity to share risk with the EU in some areas. This approach will enlarge and diversify the pipeline of projects and increase the potential pool of final beneficiaries.

The Commission wants to ensure that the beneficiaries of InvestEU can get the best possible support and with easiest access. The InvestEU Fund will therefore be open to other institutions, either multilateral or national institutions.

How does an entity become an implementing partner under InvestEU?

The European Investment Bank Group – the EU Bank – will be an implementing partner for 75% of the EU guarantee. For the remaining 25% of the EU guarantee, International Financial Institutions (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Council of Europe Bank, etc.) or National Promotional Banks and Institutions wishing to become an implementing partner must first undergo a so-called Pillar Assessment. This means that, as a prerequisite, they must meet requirements in areas relating to the internal control system, the accounting system, an independent external audit and rules and procedures for providing financing from EU funds through grants, procurement and financial instruments.

The process to become an implementing partner consists of three main steps. First, the interested entity needs to submit an application to the Commission. Second, Commission services carry out an eligibility check. If the result is positive, the Pillar Assessment can take place. It is usually carried out by external consultants contracted by the interested entity and lasts between six and 18 months. Third, the Commission issues a call for expression of interest and any entity in the process of passing the Pillar Assessment can apply to become an implementing partner. The Commission will discuss the financial products and negotiate a guarantee agreement with institutions that have answered the call. The Pillar Assessment needs to be completed on the day of the signature of the guarantee agreement.

How does a company apply for InvestEU financing?

Project promoters should apply directly to the EIB, to national and regional promotional banks, or to the national offices of International Financial Institutions such as the EBRD, the World Bank, or the Council of Europe Development Bank. At that stage, the financial partners submit a proposal to the Commission to apply for the EU guarantee. SMEs should continue to apply to their local commercial or public banks whose financial products are covered by the EU guarantee in their country or region. The local intermediary will inform them if a particular financing programme is covered by the InvestEU Fund.

How will the InvestEU Programme ensure geographical balance?

The InvestEU Programme was designed to ensure it benefits all Member States, irrespective of their size or the development of their financial market. The access through other financial partners – compared to EFSI – should allow the Fund to better serve local needs and to be complementary to other sources of EU funding under shared management. Technical assistance under the InvestEU Advisory Hub will address the specificities of cohesion countries markets and contribute to build up a project pipeline.

The opening of the guarantee to national and regional promotional banks aims to better address where the financing needs are and how best to serve them. Finally, the InvestEU Advisory Hub will provide comprehensive project development assistance. It will provide capacity building support to develop organisational capacity and facilitate market-making activities and the collaboration of sectoral actors. The aim is to create the conditions to expand the potential number of eligible recipients in nascent market segments, in particular where the small size of individual projects raises considerably the transaction cost at the project level.

What about State aid control?

State aid rules are essential to ensure effective competition, so that consumers and businesses get fair prices and wider choice in the Single Market. At the same time, in order to match our InvestEU objectives to address market failures and mobilise private investment, it has to be easy to link up Member State money – which may entail State aid and be subject to State aid rules – with EU funds managed centrally by the Commission, which do not constitute State aid.

To further streamline the State aid approval process for such joint funding, in June 2018 the Commission proposed an amendment to one of the Council Regulations governing EU State aid control. The Council adopted this amendment in November 2018. This revised Enabling Regulation allows the Commission, subject to certain conditions, to exempt Member State funding channelled through the InvestEU Fund or supported by the InvestEU Fund from the requirement to notify such interventions to the Commission prior to their implementation.

The funding from Member States would be declared compatible with EU State aid rules, as long as certain clear conditions are fulfilled. The Commission proposal thus ensures that State aid rules can help facilitate a seamless deployment of the InvestEU fund. This continues the spirit of the Juncker Commission, which has already made sure that 97% of State aid can be implemented without any involvement of the Commission.

Who will be accountable for the investments made?

The financial partners in InvestEU will be responsible for the financing and investment operations under the InvestEU Fund since their governing bodies take the final decision on the financing.

The Investment Committee, composed of independent external experts, will approve the use of the EU guarantee under the InvestEU Fund to support those operations ahead of the final decision by the financial partner.

What role will the European Parliament and Council play?

The European Parliament and the Council will oversee the implementation of the InvestEU Fund through annual reporting to the budgetary authority and through the discharge procedure.

They will also be present in the governance bodies of the programme – Member States in the Advisory Board, and a non-voting expert appointed by the European Parliament in the Steering Board.

The implementation of the InvestEU Programme will be evaluated through an interim and a retrospective evaluation. The conclusions of the evaluations will be communicated to the European Parliament and Council so that they can feed into the decision-making process in a timely manner.

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EU clears way for the EU Digital COVID Certificate

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Today, the Presidents of the three EU institutions, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission attended the official signing ceremony for the Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, marking the end of the legislative process. On this occasion Presidents David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister António Costa said:

“The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a symbol of what Europe stands for. Of a Europe that does not falter when put to the test. A Europe that unites and grows when faced with challenges. Our Union showed again that we work best when we work together. The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation was agreed between our institutions in the record time of 62 days. While we worked through the legislative process, we also built the technical backbone of the system, the EU gateway, which is live since 1 June.

We can be proud of this great achievement. The Europe that we all know and that we all want back is a Europe without barriers. The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights – the right to free movement. Signed into law today, it will enable us to travel more safely this summer. Today we reaffirm together that an open Europe prevails.”

EU Digital COVID Certificate

The aim of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Europeans have the right to free movement, also without the certificate, but the certificate will facilitate travel, exempting holders from restrictions like quarantine.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate will be accessible for everyone and it will:

  • cover COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery;
  • be free of charge and available in all EU languages;
  • be available in a digital and paper-based format;
  • be secure and include a digitally signed QR code;

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.

In addition, the Commission committed to mobilising €100 million under the Emergency Support Instrument to support Member States in providing affordable tests.

The Regulation will apply for 12 months as of 1 July 2021.

Background

On 17 March 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal to create an EU COVID Certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the pandemic. On 20 May, co-legislators reached a provisional agreement. On 1 June, the technical backbone of the systems, the EU gateway, went live. The gateway allows the verification of the security features contained in the QR codes.

Following the official signature today, the Regulation will enter into application on 1 July, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time.

13 Member States have already started to issue EU Digital COVID Certificates.

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EU proposes a strong multilateral trade response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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EU has submitted its proposal seeking the commitment of World Trade Organization (WTO) members for a multilateral trade action plan to expand the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and ensure universal and fair access. With this proposal to the WTO, divided in two communications, the EU underlines the WTO’s central role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and urges fellow WTO members to agree on a set of commitments, including on intellectual property rights.

President von der Leyen said: “The EU has actively shown solidarity with the world since the beginning of the pandemic. The European Union authorized exports of around half of the total amount of vaccines produced in Europe. Our immediate, urgent goal is to ensure equitable access for low – and middle-income countries, to share vaccines wider and faster. And we continue to help ramping up production. The EU proposes concrete short and medium term solutions to ensure universal access at affordable prices. I am looking forward to discuss with the G7 leaders next week how to achieve this goal. Beyond the current crisis, it is important to ensure global preparedness for future pandemics: diversifying manufacturing so that it is not centralised only in a handful of countries and strengthening the resilience of the healthcare infrastructure in least developed countries”.

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said: “The pandemic is still with us and there can be no room for complacency. We need to urgently concentrate on proposals that accelerate the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. In this respect, a strong multilateral trade response could deliver a huge boost in the fight against COVID-19. In reality, the main problem at this moment relates to the lack of sufficient manufacturing capacity to rapidly produce the required quantities. The objective must be to ensure that any available and adequate manufacturing capacity anywhere in the world is used for the COVID-19 vaccines production.”

More on the EU’s proposal

The EU calls on governments to:

  1. Ensure that COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and their components can cross borders freely;
  2. encourage producers to expand their production, while ensuring that those countries most in need of vaccines receive them at an affordable price, and;
  3. facilitate the use of compulsory licensing within the WTO’s existing Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS Agreement already provides this flexibility, which is a legitimate tool during the pandemic that can be used swiftly where needed

The first element aims to limit the use of export restrictions and keep supply chains open. Vaccine-producing countries should be ready to export a fair share of their domestic production. Supply chains are highly interconnected and should not be disrupted. In addition, the EU considers that supplies to the COVAX Facility should never be restricted, and no measures should limit trade in inputs necessary for the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. 

The second element calls on governments to strongly encourage and support vaccine manufacturers and developers to expand production and ensure the affordable supply of vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Such actions could include licensing agreements, the sharing of expertise, tiered pricing including non-profit sales to low-income countries, contract manufacturing and new investments in manufacturing facilities in developing countries. The EU expects all vaccine producers and developers to make concrete pledges that increase supplies to vulnerable developing countries. In this regard, the EU welcomes the commitment of companies such as BioNTech and Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, which have already committed to delivering 1.3 billion doses this year to low-income countries at no profit and to middle-income countries at lower cost.

The third element, on intellectual property, sets out that voluntary licences are the most effective instrument to facilitate the expansion of production and sharing of expertise. Where voluntary cooperation fails, compulsory licences, whereby a government grants a targeted licence allowing a willing producer to make a vaccine without the consent of a patent holder, are a legitimate tool in the context of a pandemic. The EU considers that all WTO members should be ready to:

  • agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is an exceptional circumstance of national emergency, and that the requirement to negotiate with the rights’ holder may be legitimately waived where needed;
  • support manufacturers that are ready to produce vaccines and/or treatments at affordable prices under a compulsory licence so that the level of remuneration paid by the manufacturer to the patent holder reflects such affordable prices;
  • agree that the compulsory licence could cover any exports destined to countries that lack manufacturing capacity, including via the COVAX facility.

The EU is also tabling a dedicated communication on intellectual property to the WTO body in charge of implementing the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council). Here, the EU provides more detail and clarity on each of the three points on intellectual property and links them with the specific provisions in the TRIPS Agreement. As regards the broad waiver proposed by a number of WTO members, the European Commission, while ready to discuss any option that helps end the pandemic as soon as possible, is not convinced that this would provide the best immediate response to reach the objective of the widest and timely distribution of COVID-19 vaccines that the world urgently needs. Today’s proposals aim at achieving that objective in a swift and effective manner.

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EU Digital COVID Certificate: Parliament and Council reach agreement

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Photo: Lukas Souza/Unsplash

The Commission welcomes today’s provisional political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the Regulation governing the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This means that the certificate (previously called the Digital Green Certificate) is well on track to be ready end of June, as planned. Today’s agreement has been reached in record time just two months after the Commission’s proposal. The negotiations on the certificate for the Commission have been led by Commissioner Didier Reynders in close cooperation with Vice-Presidents Vera Jourová and Margaritis Schinas and Commissioners Thierry Breton, Stella Kyriakides, and Ylva Johansson.

Welcoming this swift progress, President Ursula von der Leyen said:

“We are delivering on our commitment to have the EU Digital COVID Certificate up and running before the summer. European citizens are looking forward to travelling again, and today’s agreement means they will be able to do so safely very soon.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is free of charge, secure and accessible to all. It will cover vaccination, test and recovery offering different options to the citizens. It fully respects citizens’ fundamental rights, including protection of personal data.

All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU. The EU Digital COVID Certificate, available in paper or digital format, will make it easier for Europeans to travel – whether to see their families and loved ones or to get some well-deserved rest.

We would like to thank the European Parliament and the Portuguese Presidency for their dedication, perseverance and immense work at record speed to find an agreement on the proposal we presented.

Work still remains. At EU level, the system will be ready in the next few days. It is now crucial that all Member States press ahead with the roll-out of their national systems to ensure that the system can be up and running as soon as possible. This is what EU citizens rightly expect.

Today’s agreement has demonstrated that with the commitment and cooperation of all, the EU Digital COVID Certificate will be available on time.”

The EU Digital COVID Certificate – key features

Following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU Digital COVID Certificate:

  • will cover vaccination, test and recovery;
  • will be available in a digital and paper-based format, depending on the choice of the recipients, and contain a digitally signed QR code;
  • will be free of charge, be obtained easily and also available to persons vaccinated before the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation has entered into force;
  • may also be used by Member States for national purposes, if this is provided for in national law.
  • 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 Commission will also mobilise €100 million to support Member States in providing affordable tests.

Next Steps

The political agreement will now have to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. The Regulation will enter into force on 1 July, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time.

In parallel, the Commission will continue to support the Member States in finalising their national solutions for the issuance and verification of EU Digital COVID Certificate, and to provide technical and financial support to Member States to on-board the gateway.

Background

On 17 March 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal to create an EU COVID certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Commission’s request, the Parliament voted in favour of the activation of the urgent procedure for the two proposals on 25 March. The Council adopted its negotiating position on 14 April, and the Parliament did so on 29 April. On 20 May co-legislators reached provisional agreement on this file.

In parallel to the legislative process, important progress was already made on the technical side. The EU Gateway, which allows to verify certificates across borders, is ready and will go live as of June. Successful pilot tests took place with 17 Member States and Iceland during the last two weeks, further five Member States will test next week.

The Commission also provide open source reference software to support Member States to develop their national solution to issue certificates, to scan and check the QR codes, and a reference wallet for storage.

Previously, on 21 April, technical specification guidelines were adopted by Member States representatives in the eHealth Network, a voluntary network connecting national authorities responsible for eHealth. They are building on the close work of the Commission with the Member States, having resulted in first guidelines adopted in January and updated on 12 March, and a trust framework outline agreed on 12 March 2021. In addition, a common design template was developed in the eHealth network.

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