FTA, the business group representing the UK’s logistics industry, has today (26 March 2020) urged all EU member states to act upon the EU guidelines on green lanes for goods at borders, in order to ensure the continuous flow of trade and support essential services, keep shops full and protect the economy. The call comes after many logistics operators have encountered significant delays at the EU’s internal borders, which is disrupting the delivery of goods, and the integrated supply chains, that are urgently needed as the European continent fights the current Coronavirus outbreak.
“Green lanes at borders are intended to ensure freight flows freely to and from different countries,” explains Pauline Bastidon, Head of European and Global Policy at FTA,
“but many operators have faced, and are still facing delays of up to 14 hours at the EU’s internal borders. Currently, crossing the border should take no more than 15 minutes, as specified in the EU’s guidelines, and on behalf of our members and their partners across Europe, we are urging member states to facilitate the movement of vehicles to protect supply chains and the delivery of essential goods.
“While we are all facing such an extraordinary trading environment, procedures at green lane border crossings should be minimised and streamlined to what is strictly necessary. We are urging EU member states to ensure checks and screening can be carried out without the need for drivers to leave their vehicles, and they should not be asked to produce any documentation except ID, driver’s licence and, if necessary, a letter from the employer, as specified in the EU guidelines. Electronic submission and display of documents should be accepted.”
As Ms Bastidon continues, there is also no need to quarantine drivers and other workers who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19: “Quarantining workers at borders without reason is simply placing the whole supply chain under even greater threat. European logistics as a whole is facing a significant shortage of workers, particularly among drivers, and the industry which keeps the economy working efficiently simply cannot afford to sustain the gaps in the workforce which these unnecessary delays are causing. At present, society is relying on logistics to deliver – more now than at any other time – but our operators are being hampered by unnecessary checks and red tape.
Ms Bastidon is also urging EU member states to temporarily suspend all road access restrictions currently in place in their territories:
“COVID-19 has created an exceptional set of circumstances which logistics operators are negotiating their way through to keep businesses, schools, hospitals and homes supplied all over Europe with the goods and services they need.
“The industry now needs the support of all European governments to support their efforts, by suspending restrictions such as weekend, night and sectoral bans, and to provide stimulus to facilitate the operation of such a vital sector of the economy.
“Logistics is committed to delivering for society but needs governments to provide support to ensure the continued movement of goods without obstruction. This will ensure the safety and resilience of the continent’s interconnected supply chains at such an extraordinary time.”