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Import and export rules | Brussels, 20 March 2020

Commission publishes guidance on export requirements for personal protective equipment

On 15 March, the Commission introduced export authorisation requirements for exports of personal protective equipment outside of the European Union. This is a measure of temporary nature and not an export ban and is in line with all of the EU’s international obligations.

Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, the Commission has continued to keep its comprehensive response under review. In this respect, the Commission has reviewed various aspects of the new export authorisation measure to ensure that it fully meets its objective and operates in as effective a manner as possible.

Reflecting the integrated nature of the production value chains and distribution networks for medical and personal protective equipment beyond the boundaries of the European Union, especially in the four Member States of the European Free Trade Association – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – the Commission has now decided to exempt exports to those countries from the export authorisation requirements. A similar exemption is being granted to Andorra, the Faroe Islands, San Marino and the Vatican, as well as the associated countries and territories that have special relations with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (so-called Annex II countries). This change will be effective as of 21 March 2020.

Member States may continue to grant export authorisations where no threat is posed to the availability of personal protective equipment on the market of the Member State in question or elsewhere in the Union.

Member States’ competent authorities enjoy a margin of discretion and exports of certain quantities of specific products may be authorised under specific circumstances. Member States shall, among other things, take into consideration whether the export responds to the requests of assistance addressed to Union Civil Protection Mechanism by third countries or international organisations. Other considerations to take into account are, for instance, to provide support to the activities of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN) or to support actions coordinated by the Integrated Political Crisis Response Mechanism (IPCR).

The Commission is also clarifying that the provisions on emergency supplies, should extend to the provision of supplies to the emergency operations of humanitarian organisations in third countries. In their assessment of applications for export authorisations, Member States must take this objective into account.

Regarding the issue of humanitarian assistance, the Commission is clarifying that the provisions of emergency supplies, in the context of humanitarian aid under the factors listed under Article 2.3, should extend to the provision of supplies to the emergency operations of humanitarian organisations in third countries. In their assessment of applications for export authorisations, Member States must take this objective into account.

The Commission has also issued guidelines to reflect fully the Implementing Regulation, including the latest changes. The guidance also clarifies that, when assessing applications for export authorisations, Member States are strongly urged to grant such authorisations in order to avoid any disruption to closely integrated value chains and distribution networks particularly in the case of our neighbouring countries and economies. Given the adoption of this European approach to the export of PPE, the objective of which is to protect the availability of supplies of such equipment in the EU, the EU measure should now replace any similar national export authorisation measures or export ban that had been put in place.

This is an evolving situation, which the Commission will continue to follow very closely. The Commission will monitor the effective application of the Implementing Regulation and will continue to follow trade-related issues in the context of the current situation.

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