On May 26, 2020, the European Commission announced that it would not prolong the Export Authorization Scheme for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) it had put in place due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Commission explained that the scheme has “served its purpose” in ensuring adequacy of supply of PPE in the EU. The measures ceased to apply on the same day.

Since April 26, 2020, exporters have requested more than 1,300 authorizations, of which 95% have been approved. As a result, over 13 million protective masks, around 1 million protective garments and over 350,000 protective masks and visors have been exported from the EU since April 16.

The decision not to prolong the scheme is in line with the European Commission’s initial commitment that these export control measures would be temporary. It shows the EU’s willingness to return to normal and limit the impact of the crisis on trade flow. The EU is trying to gradually move from extraordinary measures implied by crisis management to crisis recovery.

The Export Authorization Scheme required that exports to non-EU countries of some PPE be subject to authorization by the competent authorities of EU Member States. The measures had first been adopted by urgency procedure on March 15, 2020 (see our previous alert) to introduce a coordinated approach following attempts by individual EU Member States to block exports of PPE.

The scheme had been prolonged following a review of the related Implementing Regulation in April (as addressed in one of our blog posts). This review reduced the list of products that required export authorizations, extended the geographical exception to six Western Balkans countries, and required EU Member States to notify to the European Commission the authorizations that they granted or refused.