EU asks member countries to lift drug export bans

April 8, 2020

One of the EU’s top leaders has asked member states to stop hoarding critical medicines that could go into short supply around the region. 

This week, the head of the European Commission urged countries that have imposed export bans on needed drugs to fight the coronavirus to ease the restrictions. About half of the EU’s countries, including France, Poland and Belgium, have reportedly enacted export bans on critical drugs and now, other EU countries are reporting shortages for antibiotics, muscle relaxants, pain killers and hydroxychloroquine.

The European Commission issued new guidance on handling drug supplies this week, but the document is non-binding.

The row over medicines is just the latest issue to test the solidarity of EU states amid the viral pandemic. The EU’s finance ministers held a 16-hour meeting this week to hammer out a plan for economic relief among member states, but failed to reach an agreement. For now, debate continues over how much the EU’s 27 member states should share the health and economic burdens of the coronavirus outbreak — or to what extent each country is on its own.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, called COVID-19 the “greatest test for the European Union since its inception.”