Answer to Written Question: Use of disposable face masks in public buildings

(Source: European Parliament)

EN

E-002774/2021

Answer given by Mr Breton

on behalf of the European Commission

(8.9.2021)

The rescEU stockpile of medical equipment includes not only reusable FFP masks but also single use FFP masks and disposable medical masks. Since the beginning of the pandemic the World Health Organisation[1] and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control[2],[3] have provided updated guidance on mask use in health and community settings. The rules governing the use of face masks are regulated at national level. The Commission is in dialogue with Member States, standardization bodies, industry and other stakeholders to improve the sustainability of masks.

The personal protective equipment (PPE) Regulation (EU) 2016/425 requires each Member State and partner country to set up a market surveillance authority (MSA), responsible for ensuring that PPE products such as FFP masks comply with the applicable rules. MSAs cooperate through a dedicated network[4] and exchange information about non-compliant products.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has been collecting and analysing information and intelligence concerning the arrival into the EU of PPE and medical supplies, including face masks. On 19 March 2020, OLAF opened an inquiry and has been cooperating with customs and enforcement authorities all over the world to prevent these fakes from entering the EU and to disrupt organised fraud and crime. OLAF’s investigation into counterfeit and substandard COVID-19-products has led to the identification of over 1,150 suspicious operators and to the seizure or detention of over 97 million items, including through a joint customs operation targeting fake or substandard face masks.

The Commission is aware of the allegations referred to and is in close contact with all relevant national authorities.


[1] https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/advice-on-the-use-of-masks-in-the-community-during-home-care-and-in-healthcare-settings-in-the-context-of-the-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov)-outbreak

[2] https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/using-face-masks-community-reducing-covid-19-transmission

[3] https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/Infection-prevention-and-control-in-healthcare-settings-COVID-19_6th_update_9_Feb_2021.pdf  

[4] The PPE Administrative Cooperation Group

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