“We are hearing early reports that the pressure and downtime at borders is receding,” Alexander Döring, secretary general, FEFAC, told us this morning.
Despite sounding an optimistic note, he anticipates that backlog issues at borders will remain for quite some time, taking into account, he said, the situation at ports, and pending the implementation of quarantine measures for arriving/returning vessels and on-board crews.
Commenting on developments, Iliana Axiotiades, secretary general, COCERAL, the European association of trade in cereals, rice, feedstuffs oilseeds, olive oil, oils and fats and agrosupply, told this publication: "The effect of the new EU Commission guidelines is being felt, but there are indeed still issues with some borders, in particular between Italy/Slovenia and Croatia/Slovenia."
Döring remarked that many companies still struggle in terms of getting sufficient supplies of protective gear for their drivers and workers. Indeed, FEFAC signaled last week that the lack of protective gear for truck drivers was hindering cross-border deliveries of compound feed.
Meeting again tomorrow, FEFAC’s COVID-19 expert team will discuss feed market related impacts, down to the national level. The trade group will also be keeping a watchful eye on the EU Farm Council meeting tomorrow and the conclusions arising out of those discussions, said Döring.
EU border management
Yesterday [Monday, March 23] saw the European Commission outline that if EU-wide supply chains are to continue to operate, EU member states shall designate, without delay, all the relevant internal border-crossing points on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) as ‘green lane' border crossings. Those crossings should be open to all freight vehicles, whatever goods they are carrying. Crossing the border, including any checks and health screening, should not take more than 15 minutes, added the EU officials.
EU Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said the green lanes are specifically designed to protect transport workers at the frontline of this crisis. “This set of recommendations will ease their already stressful mission and it will bring more safety and predictability to their work.”
Green lane border crossings
- Procedures at green lane border crossings should be minimised and streamlined to what is strictly necessary.
- Checks and screening should be carried out without drivers having to leave their vehicles, and drivers themselves should undergo only minimal checks.
- Drivers of freight vehicles should not be asked to produce any document other than their identification and driving license and, if necessary, a letter from the employer. The electronic submission/display of documents should be accepted.
- No freight vehicle or driver should face discrimination, irrespective of origin and destination, the driver's nationality or the vehicle's country of registration.
In light of the current situation, the Commission urged EU countries to temporarily suspend all road access restrictions currently in place in their territory, such as weekend, night and sectoral bans.