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Urgent Commission measures to remove transport bottlenecks

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As part of the EU’s solidarity response to the Ukraine conflict, the Commission presented today, 12 May, a set of actions to help Ukraine export its agricultural products.

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the blockade of Ukrainian ports, cereals and other Ukrainian agricultural products can no longer reach their destination. The situation threatens global food security and there is an urgent need to establish alternative logistics routes that use all relevant modes of transport.

The Commission is presenting an action plan to establish a “color of solidarity” in order to ensure that Ukraine can export grain but also import the goods it needs, from humanitarian aid to feed and fertilizer.

The Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, stated: “20 million tonnes of grain must leave Ukraine in less than three months using EU infrastructure. This is a challenge of gigantic proportions; therefore, it is essential to coordinate and optimize supply chains, create new routes and avoid bottlenecks as much as possible. Our communication addresses emergency solutions, as well as medium- and long-term measures for a better connection and integration of Ukraine’s infrastructure with that of the EU. For both short-term and long-term solutions, we will work with the Ukrainian authorities and in close cooperation, especially with the neighboring Member States, which have made enormous efforts to help during this crisis. “

Urgent measures to remove transport bottlenecks

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Despite the immediate efforts of the EU and the Member States to facilitate the crossing of the border between Ukraine and the EU, thousands of wagons and trucks are waiting for customs procedures on Ukraine’s part. The current average waiting time for wagons is 16 days, while at some borders it is up to 30 days. Many other batches of grain are still stored in Ukrainian silos, ready for export. Challenges include the different dimensions of the rail gauge: Ukrainian wagons are not compatible with most of the EU rail network, so most goods have to be transhipped in trucks or wagons that meet the EU standard gauge. This process is time consuming and transhipment facilities along the borders are limited.

In order to address these obstacles and establish the corridors of solidarity, the Commission, together with the Member States and stakeholders, will work in the short term on the following priority actions:

  • Additional cargo, ships and trucks: The Commission is calling on EU market players to make additional vehicles available as a matter of urgency. In order to correlate supply and demand and to establish relevant contacts, the Commission will set up a correlation logistics platform and ask Member States to designate contact points dedicated to solidarity corridors (one-stop shops).
  • Capacity of transmission networks and transhipment terminals: Priority should be given to Ukrainian shipments of exported agricultural products, and infrastructure managers should provide rail slots for these exports. The Commission also calls on market players to urgently transfer mobile grain loaders to the relevant border terminals in order to speed up transhipment.
  • Customs operations and other controls: The Commission urges national authorities to apply maximum flexibility and provide adequate staff to speed up procedures at border crossing points.
  • Storage of goods within the EU: The Commission will assess the storage capacity available in the EU and coordinate with Member States to help ensure greater temporary storage capacity for Ukrainian exports.
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Improving EU-Ukraine connectivity in the medium term

In the medium and long term, the Commission will also work on increasing the infrastructure capacity of new export corridors and when establishing new infrastructure connections in the reconstruction of Ukraine. The next round of calls for proposals under the European Interconnection Mechanism (ENM) will support projects to improve transport links with Ukraine, including for rail connections and rail-road terminals. In this context, the Commission today adopted a decision to sign a high-level agreement with Ukraine, updating the maps for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), as part of the Commission’s policy to extend TEN-T to neighboring.

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