Brussels on Sunday imposed an EU-wide export ban for some medical protective equipment in a bid to keep sufficient supplies within the bloc, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced.
On Monday, the Commission will also launch joint public procurement with member countries for testing kits and respiratory ventilators and present guidelines to national governments on border measures, she said. The Commission is already in the process of jointly procuring face masks for 20 countries.
The European Commission said on Sunday it had adopted an “authorisation scheme” to restrict sales of the safety gear and would announce guidance on Monday to ease movement of goods and essential workers during the pandemic. The Brussels action comes after border closures, by countries including Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic late last week, were followed by a wave of frontier restrictions in other member states as the pandemic’s impact grew.
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, said the scheme to keep coronavirus protective equipment inside the EU formed part of a three-pronged strategy including increased production of the gear and efforts to ease exports of it within the bloc according to need. “We need to help each other,” she said in a video posted on social media. “By producing more, keeping it in the European Union and sharing with each other we can protect our health workers and patients and contain the spread of the virus.” She also called on governments to co-ordinate border closures and said the commission would unveil recommendations on how to keep goods and staff in critical jobs moving across frontiers in the face of restrictions. “If we do not take action now, shops will start facing difficulties in refilling their stocks of certain products coming from elsewhere in the single market,” she said. “Protecting people’s health should not block goods and essential staff from reaching patients, health systems, factories and shops.”