The European Commission presented a series of actions to help Ukraine export agricultural products, the so-called “Solidarity Lanes”.
The plan was presented Thursday in Brussels by European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean.
The European Commission said that these proposals are presented as part of the EU’s solidarity reaction with Ukraine and will help Ukraine to export its agricultural products. “Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its blockade of Ukrainian ports, Ukrainian cereals and other agricultural products can no longer reach their destinations. The situation threatens global food security and there is an urgent need to establish alternative logistics routes using all relevant modes of transport,” the European Commission said.
According to the European commissioner, some 20 million tonnes of grain must leave Ukraine in less than three months using EU infrastructure. “It’s a gigantic challenge, so it’s essential to coordinate and optimize supply chains, set up new routes, and avoid bottlenecks as much as possible. Our communication addresses the solutions but also medium and long-term measures to better connect and integrate Ukraine’s infrastructure with that of the EU. For short- and long-term solutions, we will work with the Ukrainian authorities and in close collaboration, especially with neighboring Member States, who have spared no effort to help during this crisis,” Valean said.
According to the press release issued in this regard, to date, despite the immediate efforts of the EU and its Member States to facilitate border crossings between Ukraine and the EU, thousands of wagons and trucks are waiting to be cleared on the Ukrainian side. “The current average waiting time for wagons is 16 days, while it can be up to 30 days at some borders. More grain is still stored and held in Ukrainian silos ready for export. not compatible with most of the EU rail network, so most goods must be transhipped into trucks or wagons that fit the standard EU gauge. This process takes time and transshipment facilities along borders are scarce,” the European Commission said.
To overcome these obstacles and put in place the paths of solidarity, the Commission, together with Member States and stakeholders, will work on the following priority actions in the short term.
The first priorities are additional freight rolling stock, ships and trucks. “The Commission invites market players in the EU to make additional vehicles available urgently. In order to match supply and demand and establish the relevant contacts, the Commission will set up a platform matchmaking logistics and will require Member States to designate dedicated contact points for solidarity pathways (a ‘one-stop shop’).”
Another priority is the capacity of transport networks and transhipment terminals: the export of Ukrainian agricultural products must be a priority and infrastructure managers must make rail slots available 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. A road transport agreement with Ukraine will also remove bottlenecks,” the European Commission said.
Priorities include customs operations and other inspections and the storage of products in the EU. To this end, the Commission urges national authorities to show maximum flexibility and ensure adequate staff to speed up procedures at border crossing points.
In the medium and long term, the Commission will also work to increase the infrastructure capacity of new export corridors and to establish new infrastructure links as part of the reconstruction of Ukraine. “The next round of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) calls for proposals will support projects improving transport links with Ukraine, including for rail links and rail-road terminals. context, the Commission today adopted a decision to sign a high-level agreement with Ukraine, updating the maps of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), in the framework of the Commission’s policy aimed at extending the TEN-T to neighboring countries.”