14.11.2023 09:57

Blocking the border by Polish carriers endangers the "EU Solidarity Lanes"

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14.11.2023 09:57

While Russia is shelling Ukrainian ports, Poland is blocking one of Ukraine's main export routes.


After the story with the ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products, Poland hit Ukrainian agriculture and the economy of Ukraine in general for the second time.

Polish protesters paralyzed three automobile border checkpoints.

The Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland called it a "stab in the back" for Ukraine, and added that these actions have a negative impact on both the Ukrainian and Polish economies.

And the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine previously called the demands of the Polish protesters unrealistic to fulfil.


Despite the fact that most experts previously noted that Poland's ban on the import of Ukrainian grain is more political than economic, most Ukrainians accepted the internal problems of Polish farmers.

However, the new blocking of Ukrainian exports by Poland caused considerable indignation in Ukrainian society.

In social networks, Ukrainians point out that the Poles are once again violating international agreements and conducting unfair competition against other countries, including Ukraine, which is at war with Russia.

It is worth noting that Poland is currently the largest hauler in the EU.

"In 2022, Poland (20.1 % of EU total tkm) re-confirmed its position as one of the most important countries for road transport in Europe, ahead of Germany (15.8 %) and Spain (13.9 %)" Eurostat confirms.


Ukraine has no intention of discussing the return to the permit system of freight transportation, - Nayyem

On November 7, the head of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine, Mustafa Nayyem, gave a broader comment on the position of Ukraine on cargo transportation on Facebook after the general statement previously published by the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine.

He reminded that Polish carriers have blocked three checkpoints: "Korchova - Krakowiec", "Grebenne - Rava-Ruska", "Dorohusk - Yagodin" on the border with the EU. The participants of the blockade demand the return of the permit regime for Ukrainian carriers and the reduction of the number of permits to the level that existed before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Firstly, the Head of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development noted that Ukraine has no intention of even discussing returning to the permit system. The agreement on the liberalization of freight transport was ratified and agreed by all EU members and signed between the European Union and Ukraine, not by any individual country.

Nayyem reminded that until June 2022, every carrier that went to the territory of the European Union had to obtain permission to cross the state border with the relevant EU countries.

Meanwhile, since 2016, after the entry into force of the Agreement on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU, the European Union has become the main trade partner of Ukraine with a specific weight of turnover of 40.8% of the total volume of foreign trade. Further growth was limited by the lack of permits for international transportation, the number of which either remained unchanged or significantly decreased in certain directions. First of all, with the countries with which we have common borders: the Republic of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, a little less Moldova.

According to the head of the state agency, this annually led to the fact that the cost of freight increased significantly in the autumn, and Ukrainian and foreign manufacturers could not physically export their products. For example, in 2021 alone, due to the crisis with Polish permits, Ukraine lost up to 500 million euros only because the permits simply ran out, and the Polish side refused to issue new ones. "Who remembers, the market just stopped then."

"Secondly, the main reason for signing the Agreement on freight transportation by road was the violation of the Agreement on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU. The war only accelerated this process, for which we are grateful to all our neighbours and partners.

The fact is that according to Art. 136 of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, the Parties shall not introduce conditions for mutual access to the market that are more restrictive in comparison with the situation that existed on the date preceding the date of entry into force of the Agreement.

Now, just two numbers: in 2016, Ukraine had a quota for 200,000 Polish permits, and in 2021, we received only 120,000 permits, despite the fact that the total turnover with EU countries increased by almost 45%. To complete the absurdity, I will add that in parallel with that, Polish colleagues increased the corresponding quotas for carriers from the Russian Federation and Belarus for 5 years in a row.

Thus, the Polish side directly violated our rights, as it created conditions that were worse than those that existed at the time the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU entered into force. In addition, such actions of the neighbours violate Article 5 "Freedom of Transit" of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to which Ukraine joined on February 5, 2008, which provides for freedom of transit through the territory of each party along the routes most convenient for international transit.

That is why, in the autumn of 2021, we turned to the European Commission with a request to start consultations on the above-mentioned issues. In fact, the permit system was an artificial barrier to free trade, limiting not only bilateral trade, but also the transit of our goods through EU countries.

And I really hope that we will never return to this shameful and discriminatory practice, which limited us in trade with the EU before a full-scale war, and which can hit our economy now, when road transport is the main artery of our exports," Mustafa Nayyem concluded.


The Ukrainian side is trying to come to an agreement, but so far in vain. The Poles demand the impossible, the main demand is to return to the permit system

The Ministry of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine announced that on November 13 it will hold a meeting at the border with representatives of the Polish authorities and carriers to unblock checkpoints. The Ministry of Infrastructure of Poland, representatives of voivodeships, the Directorate of Mobility of the European Commission, the Embassy of Ukraine in Poland and carriers were invited to the meeting.

But yesterday evening it became known that no agreements were reached.

During the negotiations on the unblocking of the border, Ukraine offered the Polish authorities to open lanes for empty trucks at the "Ugryniv - Dolgobychiv" and "Hrushiv - Budomezh" checkpoints.

Deputy Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine Serhiy Derkach announced this on Facebook.

"Emotional day. Long negotiations with the Polish side to unblock the border have ended. Thank you to our carriers, the State Border Service, the State Customs Service and the Consulate for strengthening our positions. We are working as a team," the deputy minister said.

According to him, the main thing that the Polish protesters are demanding is to return to the system of permits for freight transportation. And this is a question that is not discussed at such meetings.

And Serhii Derkach expressed a principled position for Ukraine: "The "transport visa-free" should work and be prolonged. At least until our victory comes."

The representative of the Ukrainian government noted that the absurdity of the demand is that the Polish protesters are not appealing to their government, but want Ukraine to appeal to the EU regarding permits. Protesters are not interested in other issues.

"We are trying to find compromises in order to increase the capacity and fulfil the memoranda that have already been concluded, but it is difficult. We have proposed to the Polish authorities to open lanes for empty trucks on the "Ugryniv - Dolgobychiv" and "Grushiv - Budomezh" checkpoints. We are waiting for an answer again.

We do not back down and insist: the border blockade is a violation of a number of agreements. And the border should be unblocked immediately," the Deputy Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine wrote in a post.


In the comments under the deputy minister's post, there are many subjects of foreign economic activity who are dissatisfied with the actions of Poles. Ukrainian farmers, exporters and carriers are outraged by Poland's position.

One of the commentators added that since last Monday, not a single car has passed through "Yagodin" with loads of groups 1-24 of the Ukrainian classification of goods of foreign economic activity (UCGFEA). "Our cars were registered on October 20, it was (appointed, - ed.) check-in on November 6, we are still standing in Yagodin!!!" And this is despite the fact that the vast majority of agricultural and food cargoes are transiting to the Baltic countries.

Deputy Minister Serhiy Derkach added in a conversation with Ukrainian business: "Polish colleagues did not give us the documents (permit to hold a protest, - ed.). We asked for it in an official letter. But it was clear from the voivode's behaviour that they were allowed to do so, and exactly in this format".

The official also noted that there are no agreements yet, and it is difficult to predict anything: "So far it is difficult to say based on the decisions. We have proposed options for increasing the capacity. We are waiting for a response from our Polish colleagues. If they really want everyone to drive faster and not stand in queues, then we know what to do. But if their goal is political, they will shout and demand permits."

He said that "work negotiations are continuing".


Context. On November 6, Polish carriers began blocking truck traffic near the three largest checkpoints on the border with Ukraine: "Korchova-Krakivets", "Grebenne-Rava Ruska", "Dorohusk-Yagodin".

The organizer of the protest near the "Korchova-Krakivets" checkpoint Tomasz Borkowski said that the passage of trucks will be blocked, but humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine will be allowed through. According to him, the protest is officially registered by Polish carriers with local authorities until January 3, 2024.

On November 8, the spokesman of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Andriy Demchenko, reported that Polish carriers actually let one or several cars through per hour.

Among the demands of carriers are the return of the practice of permits for Ukrainian carriers; strengthening of transport rules for foreign carriers under ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport); impossibility of registering companies in Poland, if their financial activity takes place outside territory of the EU; creation of a separate queue for cars with licence plates of EU countries; creating a separate queue at all borders for empty trucks, gaining access to Ukrainian systems "The Way" (Shlyah) and "eQueue" (eCherha).



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