Truck drivers in Poland are planning to stage a protest on Monday by blocking three border crossings with Ukraine. The demonstration is aimed at highlighting the negative impact they have experienced as a result of the EU’s decision to relax regulations for Ukrainian transport companies in 2022.
Scheduled to begin at 12:00pm local time on November 6, the protest is expected to halt the movement of trucks through the border checkpoints of Dorohusk, Hrebenne-Rawa Ruska, and Korczowa. According to a protest notification obtained by Reuters, only one lorry per hour will be allowed to pass through these crossings.
However, it has been reported that the Polish protesters plan to make an exception for equipment destined for Ukraine’s army and vehicles transporting livestock. This indicates that their primary aim is to draw attention to the damage they have suffered, rather than completely disrupting trade and activities between the two countries.
The demands put forth by the Polish truckers include the reinstatement of previous restrictions on the number of Ukrainian-registered lorries allowed to enter Poland. They are also calling for a ban on transport companies with capital from outside the EU. These demands reflect concerns over the increasing competition from Ukrainian companies and the potential negative impact on the Polish trucking industry.
This protest echoes similar actions taken earlier this year by Polish farmers who were protesting against the influx of cheap Ukrainian grain. The presence of this cheap grain was driving down prices for local crops, affecting the livelihoods of Polish farmers. This wider discontent within Poland suggests that various businesses in the country are deeply concerned about the burden of supporting Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Deputy Infrastructure Minister, Sergey Derkach, has dismissed the protest as an attempt by Polish truckers to prevent their Ukrainian competitors from crossing the border. He pointed out that Ukrainian lorries account for 85% of the trucks that traverse this border. The blockading of roads serves as an opportunity for Polish truckers to limit the entry of Ukrainian vehicles, thus reducing competition and potentially securing more business for themselves.
According to the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry, an average of 40,000 to 50,000 trucks cross the border with Poland every month through the existing eight crossings. This figure is estimated to be twice as high as before the military conflict with Russia. The increase in trade and traffic between the two countries is a testament to the deepening economic ties and the growing importance of the transport industry in facilitating this connection.
In conclusion, the upcoming protest by truck drivers in Poland is indicative of the challenges faced by the industry due to the relaxation of EU rules on third-country haulage. The Polish truckers’ concerns over increased competition from Ukrainian companies and the potential negative impact on their business have driven them to take action. However, the protest seems to be a targeted effort rather than a complete disruption of trade, as they plan to exempt certain types of vehicles. This protest adds to the wider discontent within Poland regarding the burden of supporting Ukraine, as demonstrated by previous demonstrations by farmers. The growth in traffic between Poland and Ukraine further highlights the economic ties and the crucial role of the transport sector in fostering this connection.