The EU Council, meeting yesterday to discuss COVID-19 measures, has endorsed IRU’s strong call to keep borders open for essential goods transport across Europe.
In an open letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto renewed the industry call to avoid any new or tighter restrictions on truck movements.
Faced with new strains of the virus, some EU countries have considered unilaterally closing or controlling intra-EU Schengen borders and mandating that professional truck drivers undergo COVID tests.
“We saw complete chaos just before Christmas with more than 30,000 trucks blocked after only a few days due to the French decision to close and restrict its UK border,” said Umberto de Pretto. “Not only did this cause misery for thousands of drivers, it damaged vital supply chains for millions of European citizens and businesses.”
IRU is particularly concerned by unilateral moves on driver testing by individual countries, in particular Germany, which could lead to a domino effect of other countries such as Austria, an important transit country, imposing similar restrictions. In the letter, IRU reminded the EU of commitments made by EU member states earlier during the pandemic to keep goods moving across borders at all times, including not imposing mandatory testing.
At the Council meeting, EU leaders and the European Commission clearly prioritised the need to keep goods transport corridors open. President Ursula von der Leyen echoed IRU’s call in warning that closing borders to goods would hurt the single market, while doing little to control the virus.
The European Commission will propose additional safety measures early next week. IRU is on alert for any new unilateral measures from EU member states that restrict essential goods flows, including mandatory testing.
“As we saw before Christmas in the UK, mandatory COVID-19 testing of professional truck drivers at borders will cause chaos across Europe,” added Umberto de Pretto. “Even delays at a handful of borders could quickly snowball across the Continent with the very real risk that supply chains collapse.”