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The European Commission explains how it will help Ukraine with the export of agricultural products

The European Commission explains how it will help Ukraine with the export of agricultural products
photo: Finbalance/The European Commission explains how it will help Ukraine with the export of agricultural products
18 / 05 / 2022

The European Commission has approved an action plan to help Ukraine export agro-industrial products, the so-called Solidarity Lanes. It was presented last Thursday in Brussels by European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Vălean.

The European Commission noted that these proposals are presented in the framework of the EU's solidarity with Ukraine and will help Ukraine export its agricultural products. "After Russia invaded Ukraine and its blockade of Ukrainian ports, Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products can no longer reach their destinations. The situation threatens global food security, and there is an urgent need to create alternative logistics routes using all appropriate modes of transport," the EC stated.

According to the European Commissioner, 20 million tons of grain should be shipped from Ukraine in less than three months via EU infrastructure. "It is a huge task, so it is important to coordinate and optimize logistics chains, pave new routes and avoid bottlenecks as much as possible. Our proposals include urgent solutions, as well as medium and long-term measures to better connect and integrate Ukraine's infrastructure with EU infrastructure. For short-term and long-term solutions, we will work with the Ukrainian authorities and in close cooperation with the neighbouring Member States, who have spared no effort to help during this crisis," Vălean said.

In a press release issued in this regard, it is noted that today, despite the immediate efforts of the EU and its member states to simplify the border crossing between Ukraine and the EU, thousands of cars and trucks are waiting to be registered on the Ukrainian side. "The average waiting time for wagons is 16 days, and, at some borders, it reaches 30 days. Even more grain ready for export is still stored in Ukrainian elevators. Among the problems are different track widths: Ukrainian wagons are mostly incompatible with the EU rail network. It needs to be moved to trucks or wagons that conform to the EU's standard track.

To remove these obstacles and create "bands of solidarity", the European Commission will work with the Member States and stakeholders on priority actions in the short term.

The priorities are additional freight rolling stock, ships and trucks. To this end, the European Commission calls on EU market participants to provide additional vehicles as a matter of urgency. To reconcile supply and demand and establish appropriate contacts, the EC will set up a logistical platform to establish contacts and ask the Member States to designate Solidarity Lanes Special Contact Points.

Another priority is the capacity of transport networks and transhipment terminals: export supplies of Ukrainian agricultural products should be a priority, and infrastructure managers should provide railway slots for these exports. The EC also calls on market participants to urgently move mobile grain trucks to the appropriate border terminals to speed up transhipment. The agreement on road transport with Ukraine will also eliminate bottlenecks.

Also among the priorities are customs operations and other inspections and storage of products in the EU. To this end, the EC calls on the national authorities to be as flexible and adequately staffed as possible to speed up border crossing procedures, assess available storage capacity in the EU and coordinate with the Member States to help provide more temporary storage capacity for Ukrainian exports.

In the medium term, to improve the EU-Ukraine connection, the European Commission will work to increase the infrastructure capacity of the new export corridors and establish new infrastructure links as part of Ukraine's reconstruction. "The next round of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) competition will support projects to improve transport links with Ukraine, particularly for rail services and railway terminals. Therefore, the European Commission decided today to sign a high-level agreement with Ukraine on updating the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) maps within the framework of the commission's policy on expanding TEN-T to neighbouring countries," the press release reads.