Western Balkan foreign ministers called the European Union to exempt their countries from the restrictions imposed on exports of medical protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, the Politico portal said on Thursday.
The portal recalled that the EU adopt an export authorization scheme for some things such as face masks to stop member states from imposing national export bans and increase the level of solidarity within the Union while at the same time preventing non-EU countries from buying large quantities of protective equipment.
Politico said that The foreign ministers of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia complained in a letter to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan and Neighborhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi that the restrictions made it "more difficult" to buy protective gear. "Our region only has a population of 17 million people. Our purchase of these goods would not have a negative impact on the EU market," Politico quoted the letter, dated April 7, as saying.
It added that the EU has already exempted eight other neighboring countries from the scheme - Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, the Faeroe Islands, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican City.
The foreign ministers said in the letter that exempting the Western Balkans from the export control would "send a strong signal to our citizens that in this we are all together as Europeans."