Member States, with the support of the Commission, have published guidelines to ensure interoperability between mobile tracing and warning apps across EU.

picture of a man walking out of a train station with smartphone in hand

These are common principles to ensure tracing apps can communicate with each other when required, so citizens only have to use one app to report a positive test or to receive an alert, wherever they are in the EU. This builds on the recent joint EU toolbox ensuring common standards to develop contact tracing applications across Europe and the Commission guidance on data protection. Both the toolbox and the guidelines have been developed together by the Member States and European Commission’s support.

The framework (.pdf) sets out that tracing apps must be voluntary, transparent, temporary, cybersecure, using temporary and pseudonymised data; they should rely on Bluetooth technology and approved by national health authorities, and be inter-operable across borders as well as across operating systems. Interoperability is crucial, so that wide, voluntary take-up of national tracing apps can support the relaxing of confinement measures and the lifting of restrictions of freedom of movement throughout the EU.

EU Citizens should be able to rely on a single app independently of the region or Member State they are in at a certain moment. Most Member States have launched or intend to launch an approved mobile contact tracing app designed to fulfil operational objectives that are specific to their national COVID-19 crisis management strategy. The guidelines set out these minimum requirements for approved apps to communicate with each other so that individual users can receive an alert, wherever they are in the EU, if they may have been in proximity for a certain time to another user who has been tested positive for the virus.  Ultimately, this will support the gradual lifting of border controls within the EU and the restoration of freedom of movement.