The European Commission has today adopted a Decision enabling Member States to temporarily waive customs duties and VAT on the importation from third countries of food, blankets, tents, electric generators and other life-saving equipment destined for Ukrainians affected by the war. This measure, which was requested by Member States, will apply retroactively from 24 February 2022 and will be in place until 31 December 2022.
In the wake of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, more than 14 million people, or 30% of Ukraine’s population, are estimated to have been displaced. More than 6.2 million Ukrainians made their way to the EU, and nearly 8 million had to flee their homes but remained in Ukraine. This is putting a lot of pressure on Member States, which need to provide humanitarian assistance to large numbers of persons fleeing the war, while also supporting internally displaced Ukrainians at risk of hunger and disease.
Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said: “The war against Ukraine has caused untold suffering, but also showed the depths of EU solidarity. This measure will help Member States to come to the aid of Ukrainians both in the EU and still in their home country, by facilitating the delivery of life-saving humanitarian goods. It is absolutely the right thing to do.”
The duty and VAT waiver applies to goods imported by:
- State organisations (public bodies and bodies governed by public law including hospitals, governmental organisations, regional governments, communes/towns, etc.)
- • Charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities of the Member States.
Today’s Decision comes in addition to the new VAT rules adopted in April, which allow Member States to extend this exemption to domestic supplies of goods and services, including donations, for the benefit of disaster victims.
Current EU legislation provides for tools to be used exceptionally to help victims of disasters, as in the case of the war in Ukraine.
EU customs legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009) provides for the possibility to grant duty relief for the benefit of disaster victims. It can be applied to imports by State organisations and approved charitable or philanthropic organisations. To grant relief, a decision from the Commission is required, acting at the request of the Member States concerned.
Similarly, EU VAT law (Council Directive 2009/132/EC) has mirroring provisions as regards exemption from VAT on the final importation of certain goods.