Written by Issam Hallak,
In the midst of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission issued an implementing regulation requiring authorisations for exports of personal protection equipment (PPE), effective as of 15 March 2020 for a six-week period. A second implementing regulation extended the period for another 30 days. The latter reduced the range of products subject to authorisation to three categories, namely mouth-nose protection, protective spectacles and visors, and protective garments; gloves and face shields were dropped from the list.
The authorisations are granted by national competent authorities, and must be coordinated with the Commission’s new ‘clearing house for medical equipment’ and the rescEU stockpile of medical equipment in order to verify that the PPE being exported is not needed by other EU Member States in their fight against coronavirus. The export authorisation regulations are among the EU coordination and solidarity mechanisms implemented by the European Commission.
A mapping of exports and imports of PPE subject to authorisation shows that, even though the EU runs a large trade surplus for medical products in general, it had been running trade deficits on these specific products for the last decade. The scale of trade in these products is also very small since imports represented as little as 0.05 % of EU gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. This all goes to show how what amounts to a tiny portion of international trade can have dramatic consequences.
Read this briefing on ‘EU export authorisation scheme for personal protection equipment‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.