The European Commission is planning to provide a wider access to the EU market of road and railway transport services for Ukraine to establish ‘Solidarity Lanes’ required for agricultural exports, which were mostly blocked due to the Russian invasion.
The relevant statement was published on the website of the European Commission, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“As part of the EU's solidarity response with Ukraine, the Commission today presented a set of actions to help Ukraine export its agricultural produce. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its blockade of Ukrainian ports, Ukrainian grain and other agricultural goods can no longer reach their destinations. The situation is threatening global food security and there is an urgent need to establish alternative logistics routes using all relevant transport modes,” the report states.
‘Solidarity Lanes’ will be used not only to export grain but also import the goods Ukraine needs, from humanitarian aid to animal feed and fertilizers.
In spite of immediate efforts by the EU and its Member States to ease border crossings between Ukraine and the EU, thousands of wagons and lorries are waiting for clearance on the Ukrainian side. The average current waiting time for wagons is 16 days, while it is up to 30 days at some borders. More grain is still stored and held back in Ukrainian silos ready for export.
Among the challenges are differing rail gauge widths: Ukrainian wagons are not compatible with most of the EU rail network. In this regard, alternative solutions are needed.
To address these obstacles and set up the Solidarity Lanes, the EC, together with Member States and stakeholders, will work on the priority actions.
In particular, the EC calls on EU market players to urgently make additional vehicles available. For this purpose, the EC will set up a matchmaking logistics platform and ask Member States to designate dedicated Solidarity Lanes contact points.
Ukraine and exporters are offered to prioritize agricultural export shipments to use the available infrastructure as efficiently as possible. A road transport agreement will be signed with Ukraine to also remove bottlenecks. To encourage EU transport operators to allow their vehicles to enter Ukraine, the EC will also investigate options for top-up financial guarantees.
In addition, the EC urges national authorities to apply maximum flexibility and to ensure adequate staffing to accelerate procedures at border crossing points.
The EC will also assess available storage capacity in the EU and coordinate with Member States to help secure more capacity for temporary storage of Ukrainian exports.
In the medium to long term, the EC will also work on increasing the infrastructure capacity of new export corridors and on establishing new infrastructure connections in the framework of the reconstruction of Ukraine.
The next round of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) calls for proposals will allow support for projects improving transport connections to Ukraine, including for railway connections and rail-road terminals.
Against this background, the EC adopted a Decision with a view to signing a high-level agreement with Ukraine, updating the maps for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), as part of the EC’s policy on extending the TEN-T to neighboring countries.