In its continuing efforts to protect citizens and to coordinate the response to COVID-19, the European Commission has taken immediate steps to protect the availability of supplies of personal protective equipment, by requiring that exports of such equipment outside of the European Union are subject to an export authorisation by member states, the Commission said.
European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan said: “The challenges presented by the spread of Covid-19 justify the urgency of this action. No effort is being spared by the Commission to offer concrete help to our citizens and all those who take care of them.”
Personal Protective Equipment covers equipment such as masks, protective spectacles and visors, face shields, mouth-nose protection and protective garments. There are vital needs for protective equipment within the Union with regard to hospitals, patients, field workers, civil protection authorities, the Commission said.
An implementing act, adopted by urgent procedure and published on March 15, provides for authorisations for exports to third countries. It will be valid for a six-week period, during which EU countries will be consulted on the potential adaptations and scope of the current measure and future steps.
“A unified European response overcomes a situation where member states take individual approaches affecting the circulation of such equipment within the single market as well as to third countries, and reinforces European solidarity,” the Commission said.
Certain first-mover member states have already indicated acceptance of the Commission’s requests to amend their national measures to ensure that vital equipment is available to those who need it most, throughout the EU, the statement said.
The Commission will assist member states in setting up the relevant mechanisms to ensure a smooth and coordinated implementation of the regulation, having regard to factors such as international engagements, the evolution of urgent needs within and outside the EU, and the integration of production and supply chains with such third countries.
(Photo: Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry)