Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

European Union: Member States Adopt Technical Specifications to Ensure Interoperability of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps

(June 19, 2020) On June 16, 2020, the European Union (EU) member states agreed on a set of detailed technical specifications to ensure the interoperability of national COVID-19 contact tracing apps that use a decentralized approach. Each member state must designate a technical lead who will have operational responsibility for ensuring interoperability. In addition, guidelines that set out the basic interoperability elements were also published. The technical specifications complement and build on the general interoperability guidelines for contact tracing apps that were adopted in May 2020. Contact tracing apps with a decentralized approach store on the phone itself the arbitrary identifiers of users who were in proximity to an infected person instead of storing them on a central server, and it is the phone that checks the identifiers of the users against the identifiers of infected persons.

As of June 18, 2020, 1.5 million people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the EU and the United Kingdom (UK), with the most cases being reported in the UK (299,251), Spain (244,683), and Italy (237,828). 172,621 people had died. On June 11, 2020, the European Commission recommended that travel restrictions within the EU that had been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 be gradually lifted by June 15, 2020. The commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton, stated that “[a]s we approach the travel season, it is important to ensure that Europeans can use the app from their own country wherever they are travelling in the EU.”