Coronavirus: An EU approach for efficient contact tracing apps to support gradual lifting of confinement measures

Apr 16, 2020

EU Members States, supported by the Commission, have developed an EU toolbox for the use of mobile applications for contact tracing and warning in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This is part of a common coordinated approach to support the gradual lifting of confinement measures, as set out in a Commission Recommendation last week.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Member States, backed by the Commission, have been assessing the effectiveness, security, privacy, and data protection aspects of digital solutions to address the crisis. Contact tracing apps, if fully compliant with EU rules and well coordinated, can play a key role in all phases of crisis management, especially when time will be ripe to gradually lift social distancing measures. They can complement existing manual contact tracing and help interrupt the transmission chain of the virus.The toolbox is accompanied by guidance on data protection for such mobile apps, which is also published today.

Welcoming the toolbox, Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said: “Contact tracing apps to limit the spread of coronavirus can be useful, especially as part of Member States' exit strategies. However, strong privacy safeguards are a pre-requisite for the uptake of these apps, and therefore their usefulness. While we should be innovative and make the best use of technology in fighting the pandemic, we will not compromise on our values and privacy requirements.”

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides added: “Digital tools will be crucial to protect our citizens as we gradually lift confinement measures. Mobile apps can warn us of infection risks and support health authorities with contact tracing, which is essential to break transmission chains. We need to be diligent, creative, and flexible in our approaches to opening up our societies again. We need to continue to flatten the curve – and keep it down. Without safe and compliant digital technologies, our approach will not be efficient.”

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