Ministry: Netherlands did not block Estonia-destined coronavirus supplies

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Map launched by AlphaGIS and Ministry of Foreign Affairs showing European transit options during the coronavirus pandemic.
Map launched by AlphaGIS and Ministry of Foreign Affairs showing European transit options during the coronavirus pandemic. Source: AlphaGIS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Authorities in the Netherlands were not behind the suspension of a consignment of medical supplies intended for Estonia as part of the coronavirus emergency situation measures, a social ministry spokesperson says, but were due to disagreements between private sector firms.

Deputy Riigikogu speaker Siim Kallas (Reform) said that the Dutch government had requisitioned supplies destined for Estonia in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but the social affairs ministry spokesperson denied this.

"The EU has not been able to prevent an explosion of extreme protectionism. Borders are closed, the movement of necessary goods has been prevented. If, for example, it is true that the Dutch government has requisitioned a consignment of medical supplies meant for Estonia, this is an indescribable foolishness," Kallas said, on daily Eesti Päevaleht's website on Sunday.

"It is true that one delivery from the Netherlands did not arrive in Estonia. According to our information, there had been a misunderstanding between the companies concerned," Oskar Lepik, social affairs ministry spokesperson, told ERR on Monday.

Lepik added that potential future breakdowns in supply were being addressed.

"We are working with both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that supplies are not disrupted," Lepik said.

The Estonian authorities also told ERR on Monday that the Dutch government has confirmed that the country has not infringed EU internal market regulations.

Dutch ambassador to Estonia's comment

The Dutch Ambassador to Estonia, Karen van Stegeren, confirmed to ERR Monday afternoon that her country had not blocked the transit of, or requisitioned, any medical equipment including coronavirus testing materials, and had in fact committed to not imposing export restrictions within the EU during the current crisis.

"The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has confirmed to me that the government of the Netherlands has not blocked and will not block or confiscate any (shipments of) medical equipment, including test materials," Mrs van Stegeren told ERR.

"On the contrary: The Netherlands has advocated not to impose export restrictions within the EU and to continue to adhere to EU rules during the current crisis."

EU countries have the right to impose trade restrictions in emergency situations, and some countries have done so, including Italy, France and Spain, though the Netherlands is reportedly not among them at present.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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