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We have recently begun importing materials from Italy.

Italy charge VAT at 22% but if we provide them with our VAT registration number they do not charge us any VAT.

As I understand it, there is an agreement in place with our government and the EU that companies from the UK pay tax on imports at the UK rate. This is to be paid over to HMRC when completing the VAT return rather than to the supplier at the time of purchase.

If my understanding is correct - What I am unsure about is:
Normally when buying and selling in the UK, you charge VAT to your customers (payable to HMRC) and pay VAT to your suppliers (recoverable from HMRC).

If we pay the VAT on our EU Imports on our VAT return at 20%.... when / how are we recovering it? Or is it not recoverable and we need to think of EU purchases as costing 120%?

Many thanks