On 12 October 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Izaskun Bilbao Barandica of the Renew Europe Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“Throughout the pandemic, the Commission has gone to extraordinary lengths to coordinate with Member States the criteria on which the latter base the measures they take to curb the spread of COVID-19, in the form of restrictions on the mobility of people and goods within the Schengen area. Despite this, some Member States are continuing to impose specific requirements which are sometimes hard to justify and to understand. This is true of the criteria which have to be met in order to secure acceptance of the results of PCR tests required when entering a Member State or to avoid quarantine. In Germany, for example, the test certificate must be in either German or English, even though the findings can easily be interpreted in any language and the Member States only authorise approved laboratories to conduct tests.
1. Does the Commission regard this language requirement as justified, given the guarantees required of laboratories carrying out this type of test in any Member State?
2. Will it take steps to do away with this type of requirement?”
On 15 February 2021, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Public health measures and response are the competence of Member States and the Commission has no power to instruct them on the language requirement for the test results.
This being said, as pointed out, the Commission has been coordinating with Member States the measures being implemented, including in the context of travel and testing.
The Commission has highlighted mutual recognition of tests results as a key tool to facilitate cross-border travel. The Commission emphasised the importance of ensuring the mutual recognition of test results in several documents, such as the communication on additional COVID-19 response measures, the recommendation on COVID-19 testing strategies, including the use of rapid antigen tests, the recommendation and the proposal for a Council Recommendation on a common framework for the use, validation and mutual recognition of rapid antigen tests.
The Presidency proposed a compromise text including the extension of mutual recognition to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests results and the text was adopted on 21 January 2021.”
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