The European Commission expects the situation on the Polish-Ukrainian border to be resolved as soon as possible, said Adina Valean, EU Commissioner for Transport, on Monday. She suggested that the Joint Committee could be convened “when the situation calms down and is resolved at the border.” For almost a month, Polish carriers have been protesting at the border, raising alarm about unfair competition, which is said to be the result of the agreement between the European Union and Ukraine on road transport of goods.
The European Union Council on Transport, Telecommunications and Energy took place on Monday in Brussels. During a press conference, Adina Valean, the EU Commissioner for Transport, announced that she would defend the agreement between the European Union and Ukraine on road transport of goods.
– I am absolutely determined to defend this agreement and explain its benefits both for the European market and for Ukraine and Moldova. I really hope that the authorities in the Member States, those at the border, will take the responsibility associated with this seriously, said Adina Valean.
Protest of carriers on the border with Ukraine
The agreement is opposed by Polish carriers, who have been protesting for almost a month at the crossings with Ukraine in Dorohusk and Hrebenne (Lublin Voivodeship) and in Korczowa (Podkarpackie Voivodeship). Carriers let several cars pass per hour. In this way, they want to introduce commercial permits for Ukrainian companies to transport goods, excluding humanitarian aid and supplies for the Ukrainian army; suspension of licenses for companies established after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and their inspection.
The EU commissioner was asked about the situation on the Polish-Ukrainian border and the possible initiation of infringement proceedings against Poland. – (…) this is not only about a road transport agreement, this situation may also have implications in the context of trade agreements. The Commission has grounds to act here due to the possibility of a violation, said Adina Valean.
– We must take action and resolve this situation as quickly as possible. I count on the authorities to solve this problem on the spot without delay, because it is cold, the conditions are terrible and I really hope that the situation will be unblocked, she emphasized.
Commissioner Adina Valean suggested that the Joint Transport Committee requested by the Polish government should meet only after the border blockade is lifted.
– We agreed that the Joint Committee would deal in the context of this agreement, maybe not with changes to this agreement, but with the implementation of our obligations, but I said that this should take place when the situation calms down and is resolved at the border – she said. – We must continue to put pressure on the (Polish – ed.) government. I think it is unacceptable that the government in Poland washes its hands of it (…) – added Valean.
The EU commissioner also drew attention to the results of the parliamentary elections in Poland. – I look forward to working with the next government to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. The previous government was very active in supporting Ukraine from the beginning of the crisis, it was also very supportive in matters related to transport, the integration of Ukraine with our Community, so I can say that it is a pity that it ends in such a situation that cannot under any circumstances be treated positively – she assessed.
On Friday, carriers associated with the Union of Slovak Carriers also started blocking the only border crossing with Ukraine intended for trucks – in Vyžne Nemiec-Uzhgorod.
The position of the Polish government
Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Rafał Weber said on Monday in Brussels that for Poland the most important point of the ministerial meeting was the one related to the validity of the EU-Ukraine agreement.
– I am very pleased with the support of Hungary and Slovakia, not only for the support for including this item on the agenda, but also for the support for the conclusions that we have expressed today. This conclusion is a return to road permits. We expect that the European Commission, within the Joint Committee, which should be convened pursuant to Art. 7 of the agreement, will revise this agreement – he said.
As Weber added, Poland presented hard data showing that Ukrainian carriers, using unfair competition, are gaining an increasing share in the transport market, especially in countries that border Ukraine.
– Out of 100 trips across the Polish-Ukrainian border, 10 are made by Polish vehicles, and 90 – by Ukrainian ones. Before the outbreak of the war, this relationship was different. 35 journeys are made by Polish vehicles and 65 by Ukrainian vehicles. We are dealing here with unfair competition. Therefore, a reaction from the European Commission is needed – emphasized the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure.
As he announced, Poland will seek EU support for restoring travel permits for Ukrainian carriers to the EU. He noted that decisions will be taken by member states by qualified majority.
– There is definitely a problem. You can’t hide it under the carpet, you can’t say that everything is fine. We have no objection to continuing to support Ukraine, we are a leader on this front, but we cannot allow any aid activities to take place at the expense of Polish companies, in this case Polish road carriers, Weber pointed out.
Main photo source: EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS