LISBON, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Five European Union (EU) member countries, each relying heavily on tourism, on Tuesday called for the development of a joint digital application for tracking the pandemic, the Portuguese Lusa News Agency reported.
In a joint statement, leading digital affairs officials of Portugal, Germany, Spain, France and Italy stressed that two of the EU's greatest achievements are at risk today -- the free movement of goods and the free movement of people, adding that the EU faces "the biggest challenge since its foundation due to the crisis" caused by COVID-19.
"The pandemic and its economic consequences do not end at the borders between states," they warned, quoted by Lusa. "No member state can fight the crisis alone, and this is particularly true in the digital economy."
The return to normality in the EU, economic recovery and the unhindered movement of people across borders "require a joint effort by Europeans," they said, arguing that "digital applications allow us to be constantly interconnected in Europe despite the physical distance" and that digital applications can play an important role in "getting us out of this crisis."
"Digital tools, as integrated measures, are part of a holistic strategy to fight the virus, but it is our responsibility to make this tool available in our countries to fight against the pandemic," the statement said quoted by Lusa.
The current challenge is "to develop effective technical solutions beyond the borders of the member states, taking into account national specificities," it said.
"These technical solutions must be developed in accordance with national and European legislation on privacy and data protection while respecting European principles and values," it added.
"We are committed to developing voluntary, temporary membership applications that guarantee privacy protection and are developed in open source," the officials said.
Agreeing that the member states have the power to choose the most appropriate technological architectures for their specific context and for their national health systems, they said they were "committed to a joint effort to achieve the required level of cross-border interoperability of tracking applications and to continuing to work hand in hand at European level."