BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union ended its controls on the export of coronavirus protective equipment on Tuesday after concluding that supplies for European medical and other workers were now adequate.

It’s the latest phasing down of coronavirus restrictions in Europe as the health crisis eases, with a growing number of EU countries confident that they are far better placed to deal with any so-called second covid-19 wave.

The bloc introduced an export authorisation scheme on March 15 for all personal protective equipment, which could only then be exported to a non-EU nation if approved by individual EU countries.

The scheme was revised a month ago, limiting the products under control to masks, protective glasses and visors and garments such as gowns. It also exempted western Balkan countries from the restrictions. EU countries needed then to consult the European Commission on whether to authorise exports.

The Commission, which oversees trade policy in the 27-nation EU, said that exporters had made more than 1,300 requests for authorisations in the past month and that 95% of them had been approved.

This resulted in EU countries exporting 13 million masks, 1 million protective garments and 350,000 spectacles and visors.

The restrictions came in after a number of countries, including France and Germany, introduced their own export controls, angering fellow members such as Italy that were most in need of such equipment.

The EU-wide controls on exports largely restored flows of protective equipment within the bloc.


(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)