European Commission Determined to Defend Cancellation of Permits despite Polish Demands

Tuesday, 5 December 2023

The European Commission has said that it is against the resumption of the system of issuing permits for Ukrainian hauliers, as demanded by Polish border protesters.

According to Radio Liberty, Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, said that she is determined to defend the liberalisation of freight traffic between Ukraine and the EU despite the demands of Polish protesters.

"I am determined to defend this agreement and to continue explaining its benefits for the European market as well as for Ukraine and Moldova. I really hope that the authorities in the member states and on the front line will take their responsibility seriously," Vălean said.

Although she supported the meeting of the joint committee initiated by Poland to discuss the problems associated with the freight liberalisation agreement, she believes that these discussions should be held "after the critical situation at the border is resolved".

"This ping-pong between Ukraine and the European Commission is unfair. Meanwhile, people are suffering at the border, and our external borders in the European Union are being held hostage. Therefore, the idea of returning the permits is unacceptable, since it was for this purpose that we refused to issue the permits. Allowing operations under different numbers and different amounts of permits in the EU was not viable," she said.

"I think it is unacceptable for the government of Poland to simply back away from this, saying that this is something between the local authorities and the European Commission, and ultimately Ukraine. We, as the central government, have nothing to do with this – our hands are tied. I don't think this is an acceptable explanation," Vălean said.

At the same time, the European Commissioner said that she had taken into account the fact that Poland had held elections and was in the process of forming a new majority, adding that she looked forward to working with the next government to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

The day before, it was reported that Poland is set to demand that the European Union restore the system of issuing permits for Ukrainian truckers. 

"This system was in place until the spring of 2022 and worked well, then it was changed by the European Commission and today hauliers are blocking the border," said the head of the Polish government, whose mandate is expected to end as early as 11 December.

"We will definitely demand from the European Commission that the licensing system be restored which will equally and fairly regulate this transport market," he added, effectively reiterating his position, which was made public in late November.

Polish hauliers have been blocking border crossing points since 6 November, demanding that the EU reinstate the system whereby Ukrainian companies need permits to operate in the EU. Polish hauliers were joined by Polish farmers and later by Slovak hauliers.

As of the morning of Monday, 4 December, there were approximately 2,500 trucks on the Ukrainian-Polish border.

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