Is the EU discriminating between Italy and Malta on face masks?

People wear protective face masks at international arrivals area at Guarulhos International Airport, amid coronavirus fears, in Guarulhos
People wear protective face masks at international arrivals area at Guarulhos International Airport, amid coronavirus fears, in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo state, BraziI March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Roosevelt Cassio

On 26th April Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that “Coronavirus Emergency Commissioner Arcuri was issuing a legal notice whereby the price of face masks was fixed at 50 euro cents, and that a law would be drafted to ensure zero VAT on facial protection masks”.

Today, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri announced that a legal notice was being published lowering VAT on face masks from 18 to 5%.

Schembri said that changing the VAT is an international process, and that they had attempted to get a tax exemption from European authorities for these masks and shields but had been unsuccessful in this regard.

So the best reduction they could make was to lower the VAT to 5%.

If what the Italian Prime Minister Conte declared was correct, why is the European Union discriminating between Italy and Malta, allowing the former to introduce 0%VAT on face masks?

Another question to ask: with regards to face masks imported from China, where VAT does not apply but customs duty does, is this customs duty being eliminated or reduced?