EU transport groups pressure Poland by urging boycott of carriers choking Ukraine's trade lifelines

Trade organizations in Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy have called on “all EU companies” to boycott Polish road haulers blocking the border with Ukraine, news agency Ukrinform reported on Dec. 7, citing a letter from these organizations.

“We call on all EU companies and representatives of their respective transport sectors not to renew transport contracts and not to conclude new contracts with Polish transport companies as long as they continue to block the Polish-Ukrainian border,” the letter reads.

Read also: Poland’s Tusk pledges to resolve Ukraine border blockade once in government

Ukraine can now import and export goods only by road, and two years of full-scale war have led to the impoverishment of the population, the authors state.

The blockade has caused prices to rise and fuel shortages in Ukraine, and led to a 40% drop in exports from Ukraine in November alone. Two Ukrainian truckers have died while waiting in the lines at the border, the document says.

The boycott will force Polish carriers to quickly end the blockade, the authors of the letter hope.

Read also: Baltic states scold Poland over Ukraine border blockade

“The Western European market is more important for these companies than the Ukrainian transportation market,” the trade unions of Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy explain their plan.

“We have no problems with the protests of trade unions, and Polish transport unions can carry them out inside Poland without harming a state that is fighting hard for all of us.”

The head of the Polish opposition party Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska), Donald Tusk, who is likely to become the country’s new prime minister, promised on Dec. 8 to address the situation with the blockade of the Ukrainian-Polish border by carriers after taking office.

The state rail transport company Ukrzaliznytsia announced on Dec. 7 that it had begun to transport trucks blocked on the border with Poland by train.

Blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border: what is known

Polish carriers started a border blockade with Ukraine on Nov. 6. They blocked three checkpoints for the passage of freight transport: Korczowa-Krakivets, Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska, and Dorohusk-Yahodyn. On Nov. 22, the blockade of the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint on the Ukrainian-Polish border was extended until Feb. 1, 2024. On Nov. 23, the Shehyni-Medyka checkpoint was also blocked.

Read also: Cargo trucks start to undergo processing on Polish border amid EU discussions

The protesters’ demands include: making Ukrainian carriers require permits again, tightening the ECMT transportation rules for foreign carriers, banning the possibility of registering companies in Poland if the company’s accounts are not in the EU, a separate line in the eQueue system for vehicles with EU license plates, a separate line at all borders for empty trucks, and access to the Shlyakh system.

Ukraine held talks with Polish protesters blocking truck traffic at the border, but did not reach agreement.

After the death of the second Ukrainian driver in the queue, the government began collecting data to evacuate drivers from the Polish-Ukrainian border. Ukraine is also initiating the creation of an EU monitoring group at the border, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhiy Derkach said.

On Dec. 1, Slovak carriers also blocked truck traffic leading to the Uzhhorod checkpoint.

On Dec. 5, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed that Warsaw will demand the restoration of the permit system for Ukrainian carriers.

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