European Western Balkans

EU limitations of protective equipment export do not apply to the WB any more

Family photo of the WB Foreign Ministers in Skopje; Photo: MFA North Macedonia

BRUSSELS – The new EU export authorisation scheme for personal protective equipment entered into force on Sunday and will apply for a period of 30 days. The Western Balkans are now exempted from the restrictions.

The new implementing regulation reduces the list of products that require export authorisation to masks, spectacles and protective garments, extends the geographical exception (including to the Western Balkans) and requires Member States to swiftly grant authorisations for exports for humanitarian purposes.

The EU initially introduced the export authorisation scheme for personal protective equipment on 15 March to ensure adequacy of supply of such products in the EU in the times of coronavirus crisis. The move was met with criticism in the Balkans, prompting the President of Serbia to attack the notion of EU solidarity in his speech later that day.

Western Balkan Foreign Ministers subsequently asked to be exempted from the scheme. Their request was accepted on 15 April.

According to the European Commission, the adjustments result from a careful evaluation of needs signalled by all EU Member States. The measures remains temporary (30 days) and, in the spirit of transparency, will be notified today to the WTO partners along with other EU coronavirus trade-related initiatives.

“The scheme reflects our continuing commitment to protect people’s health and support humanitarian actions and the needs of our neighbours or trade partners. We have concluded that a short extension of the export authorisation requirements is consistent with those commitments. This scheme is also fully in line with our commitments at the G20: it is temporary, targeted, proportionate and transparent”, stated the Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan.

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