EU export restrictions for personal protective equipment

On 15 March, the EU Commission introduced export authorisation requirements for exports of personal protective equipment outside of the European Union. (EU).

The EU made it clear that this is

  1. a temporary measure

  2. not an export ban,

So, what is it? And why is it? For how long is it? We break it down


The COVID-19 disease has been spreading fast across and is spreading rapidly throughout the EU. with an enormous public health impact with substantial fatal outcomes in high-risk groups and significant economic and societal disruption. Personal protective equipment is an essential product since it is necessary to prevent the further spreading of the disease, and safeguard the health of medical staff treating infected patients.

Demand for PPE skyrocketed

The demand for medical protective equipment has been exacerbated in the last days and is expected to continue increasing significantly in the imminent future with accompanying shortages developing in several Member States. Constraints exist throughout the EU single market to meet customers demand for the relevant Personal Protective Equipment, in particular mouth protection masks.

Not enough supply to meet the demand

There are vital needs of protective equipment within the EU gfor hospitals, patients, field workers and civil protection authorities. YEet the level of EU production and existing stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will not be sufficient to meet the demand within the EU. This is particularly the case as this demand rises in other parts of the world and much-needed PPE can be exported without restriction to other parts of the world.

Immediate action

The EU has taken immediate action of limited duration in order to ensure that exports of PPE and make are subject to authorization in order to ensure the adequacy of supply in the EU in order to meet the vital demand.

Article 1 Export authorisation

The EU law reads "An export authorisation established in accordance with the form set out in Annex II shall be required for the export outside the Union of personal protective equipment listed in Annex I, whether or not originating in the Union. Such authorisation shall be granted by the competent authorities of the Member State where the exporter is established and shall be issued in writing or by electronic means."

So, is exporting PPE banned?

No, certain PEE is subject to export authorisations, and these canbe granted 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 EU. EU Member States enjoy a margin of discretion and exports of certain quantities of specific products may be authorised under specific circumstances.

What are the decision making criteria?

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.

  • t provides support to the activities of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN)

  • supports actions coordinated by the Integrated Political Crisis Response Mechanism (IPCR).

  • provides supplies to the emergency operations of humanitarian organisations in third countries.

Exporting PPE for commercial purposes will not be authorised.

Seven types of Protective Equipment

  1. Protective spectacles and visors

  2. Face shields

  3. Mouth-nose-protection equipment

  4. Protective garments

  5. Garment (e.g. gown, suit) for the protection of the wearer against potentially infectious material and for the protection of the environment against potentially infectious material spread by the wearer

  6. Gloves

For details and HS /CN codes see the regulation:

Exemptions for EFTA countries

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.

Exemptions for associated countries and territories + UK

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).

The Rules

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