On 20 March 2020, the Commission published Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/426, amending the measures introduced on 15 March 2020 by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/402, which made the export of certain personal protective equipment (PPE) to outside the EU subject to an authorization requirement (please see our previous post here). These amendments modify the existing measures to exclude exports to EFTA Member States (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), and to certain “overseas countries and territories” (the Faroe Islands, Andorra, San Marino and the Vatican City) from the authorization requirement. Therefore, going forward, exports of listed PPE from the EU to these destinations will no longer require an export license under the Implementing Regulation.

The Commission also published a Guidance Note on the PPE export restrictions, which explains the aim of the measures introduced by Implementing Regulation 2020/402 is to ensure adequate supply of PPE products across the Union. The Guidance Note provides details on the criteria Members States should use when deciding whether to grant export authorizations for these products. It states that the measures do not constitute an absolute ban, but indicates that Member States should consider the overriding objective when assessing applications for export authorizations, and in particular it notes that such authorizations should only be granted where the shipment in question does not pose a threat to the availability of PPE on the market of the Member State in question or elsewhere in the EU. Nonetheless, it clarifies that it is not the intention of the EU to restrict exports any more than absolutely necessary, and that within the overarching objective the competent authorities in Member States would have a margin of discretion to authorize exports of certain quantities of specific PPE products under specific circumstances subject to Member States’ needs. In addition to the non-exhaustive, illustrative list of considerations to be taken into account provided by Article 2(3) of Implementing Regulation 2020/402, other factors that the Guidance Note suggests could be taken into account include the fulfillment of existing contractual obligations, and minimizing disruption to closely integrated value chains and distribution networks.

The Guidance Note also reiterates that the Implementing Regulation was adopted with the understanding that Members States should revoke any national restrictions imposed to limit exports of PPE to third countries or between Member States within the EU. German national restrictions on certain exports of medical equipment, which had been introduced on 4 March 2020, were also repealed on 19 March 2020, although the German government has noted that such restrictions could be reintroduced if necessary.

The Commission has also created a dedicated website to where further updates on the EU’s coronavirus response will be published.

Author