IRU‘s take on EU exit road map

In News4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 21, 2020

The European Union has set out its road map for lifting the current Covid-19 restrictions across Europe and progressively reopening certain sectors.

The IRU welcomes the road map‘s call for a coordinated approach in lifting the current containment measures and its recognition of the importance of cross-border transport systems to enable the free movement of people, goods and services. This stance is vital given the lack of member states‘ coordination has been a fundamental difficulty in setting up and managing restrictions and border control so far. 

The road map‘s recognition of the fact that “in the transition phase, the efforts to maintain an unobstructed flow of goods and to secure supply chains should be reinforced” is also a particularly welcome move. However, the way member states will implement and achieve this remains unclear. 

“The road map is a first but still very general step, and we need to see more pragmatic guidelines, to restore transport services, connectivity and movement of people and goods. Governments have failed to coordinate their strategies and actions so far and we have to avoid that this happens again during the recovery phase,” said Raluca Marian, IRU general delegate.  

More specifically, IRU outlines the priority matters as follows:

Green lanes

Green lanes are still not a reality everywhere, even with trucks representing the predominant type of cross-border traffic. Long waiting hours continue to pose the biggest challenge for logistics. Once the de-confinement process commences, more and more traffic, including private passenger cars, will overwhelm the newly created borders. 

Continuity of logistics chains will therefore be seriously harmed unless green lanes for commercial vehicles become a reality and result in a policy that prevents systematic stopping of trucks at intra-EU borders. 

Some member states form convoys of trucks at borders, in order for the vehicles to cross their territory escorted by police. This is contrary to the concept of green lanes and what‘s more, it is unsafe. 

Collective passenger transport

The EU‘s encouragement to use private cars is a disappointment. Collective transport has been a consistent EU and national focus as the most efficient tool for decarbonisation and decongestion. Rather than abandoning a long-lasting promoted mode of transport, IRU calls on the EU to focus on putting immediate protective measures in place, so that collective passenger transport can resume. Many European citizens depend on collective means of transport and don‘t have access to a car. 

Health measures: massive testing, protection of drivers and disinfection of vehicles 

Drivers should be defined as a priority category subject to preventive testing. They should also be given priority access to protective and disinfection equipment. 

As a social partner at the EU level, the IRU welcomes the commission‘s invitation to contribute to the upcoming “rapid alert system to identify supply and value chain disruptions”.

“The EU‘s road map marks the first step towards a post Covid-19 recovery,” said Marian. “It must therefore be carefully thought through in order to enable passenger and freight transport, as the backbone of the economy, to resume needed operations safely and effectively as quickly as possible.

“Transport operators cannot be expected to implement the measures alone – coordinated and far-reaching European and national level support will be essential,” she said.