European Western Balkans

Commission proposes exemption of WB from export authorisation of medical equipment

European Commission; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – The European Commission announced yesterday that it had started consultations with EU Member States on a draft regulation to adjust the export authorisation scheme set up on 15 March as an emergency measure that elapses on 25 April 2020. The proposal envisages the exemption of the Western Balkans from the scheme.

The new regulation is set out to apply for a limited period of 30 days (as of 26 April 2020), and it covers one single product category, protective masks. The Commission services find that this is the only remaining category, where an export authorisation is necessary in order to secure an adequate supply to protect the health of Europeans, European Commission, which is responsible for EU’s common trade policy, stated.

Crucially, the new scheme proposes some changes with respect to its geographical scope. In addition to previously existing exceptions, it exempts from the authorisation requirement exports to Western Balkans countries, which are engaged in a process of deep integration with the Union, as well as Gibraltar and territories of Member States excluded from the EU customs union.

The export authorisation scheme is part of the measures taken by the EU to address the epidemiological crisis caused by the coronavirus disease. It has been met with criticism in some part of the Balkans, notably in Serbia.

Last week, Foreign Ministers of the region sent a joint letter to the Commission with a request to exclude the region from this EU Regulation.

According to EC, in the spirit of international solidarity, the new scheme now explicitly requires Member States to authorise exports of emergency supplies in the context of humanitarian aid and to process the relevant applications in an expedite manner.

The Commission announced that it will adopt this delegated regulation according to the corresponding comitology procedure, in which the representatives of Member States can suggest amendments to the legislative proposal.

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