Taxation and Customs Union

Commission proposes to exempt vital goods and services distributed by the EU in times of crisis

On 12 April 2021, the Commission proposed to exempt from Value-Added Tax (VAT) goods and services made available by EU bodies and agencies to Member States and citizens during times of crisis. The initiative will maximise the efficiency of EU funds used in the public interest to respond to crises, such as natural disasters and public health emergencies. It will also strengthen EU-level disaster and crisis management bodies, such as those falling under the EU’s Health Union and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Once in place, the new measures will allow the Commission and other EU agencies and bodies to import and purchase goods and services VAT-free when those purchases are being distributed during emergency response in the EU. Goods and services covered under the proposed exemption include:

  • diagnostic tests and testing materials, and laboratory equipment;
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, respirators, masks, gowns, disinfection products and equipment;
  • tents, camp beds, clothing and food;
  • search and rescue equipment, sandbags, life jackets and inflatable boats;
  • antimicrobials and antibiotics, chemical threat antidotes, treatments for radiation injury, antitoxins, iodine tablets;
  • blood products or antibodies;
  • radiation measuring devices;
  • quarantine facilities, clinical trials, disinfection of premises, etc.

The legislative proposal will now be submitted to the European Parliament for its opinion, and to the Council for adoption.

Read the proposal 

Press release