In its continuing efforts to protect citizens and to coordinate the response to COVID-19, the European Union’s European Commission says it has taken immediate steps to protect the availability of supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) by subjecting exports outside of the EU to authorization by member states.
“The challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19 fully 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,” said Phil Hogan, commissioner for trade.
PPE includes masks, protective glasses and visors, face shields, mouth-nose protection, and protective garments. The European Commission says that there are vital needs for PEE within the EU with regard to hospitals, patients, field workers, and civil protection authorities.
Adopted by urgency procedure, the implementing act provides for authorizations for exports to third countries. It will be valid for a six-week period, during which member states 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 already have 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 commission said.
Further, the commission said it 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.