Following the COVID-19 outbreak and emergency measure taken by governments across the EU, the trade association that represents the chemical industry in Europe has sent a letter to the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen with a number of key suggestions to quickly allow easier and faster transport of essential goods throughout Europe.

In the letter, Cefic describes how it’s priority is to work with relevant EU and Member State authorities to ensure essential substances can be moved swiftly across the EU, despite border closures, to prevent shortages of critical supplies.

It is the chemical industry that produces substances used in essential products for health workers to contain the spread of the virus or to treat patients. Examples include ingredients for disinfectants, active pharmaceutical ingredients for medicines, polypropylene fibres for mouth masks, wastewater treatment products for clean drinking water.

However, while production plants and freight transport operations continue to operate, chemical companies are experiencing member state specific transport restrictions, resulting in severe transport delays. Longer transport times or transport disruptions translate into significant transport capacity losses and have severe consequences for vital end-to-end supply chains.

Cefic’s recommendations to protect freight transport workers, including staff at transhipment points, intermodal freight terminals as well as loading and unloading points include:

  • harmonisation of truck receiving and driver screening procedures at a European level to facilitate the safe loading and unloading of trucks

  • measures to make accelerated test methods available. Such measures would drastically shorten any quarantine measures imposed on freight transport workers, avoiding loss of crucial driver capacities

  • internal border controls organised in a way that prevents the emergence of large gatherings (eg queues), increasing the risk of spreading the virus. Also essential facilities, including rest rooms, drinking water and food supply, should be available in these control areas

  • ensure sufficient supply of protective equipment and materials (face masks, gloves and disinfectant) where people to people contact may occur, even at safe distance.

Last reviewed 24 March 2020