We reported recently on plans by the European Commission for new border management measures in the context of the COVID-19 emergency (see EU aims to keep goods moving).

It has now issued practical advice on how to implement its Guidelines for border management, in order to keep freight moving across the EU during the current pandemic.

To ensure that EU-wide supply chains continue to operate, the new document states, Member States are requested to designate, without delay, all the relevant internal border-crossing points on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) as “green lane” border crossings.

Available at eur-lex.europa.eu, the document makes clear that green lane border crossings should be open to all freight vehicles, whatever goods they are carrying.

Crossing the border, including any checks and health screening, should not take more than 15 minutes, the Commission indicates.

This is still too long, according to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), with its General Delegate, Raluca Marian, saying that, while it welcomes the Commission’s guidelines, the IRU regrets that that a provision on long border waiting times has been included.

“We know by experience that maximum 15 minutes per truck will continue to result in huge delays and the situation will remain unchanged,” she said. “There shouldn’t be any systematic checks at borders.”

Internationally recognised documents are the best option to maintaining much-needed transport flows, Ms Marian continued. Requesting additional forms and/or health certificates from drivers would only hinder supply chains.

EU Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said: “A collective and coordinated approach to cross-border transport is more important today than ever before. The green lanes are also specifically designed to protect transport workers at the frontline of this crisis. This set of recommendations will ease their already stressful mission and it will bring more safety and predictability to their work.”

How will the green lanes work?

Checks and screening should be carried out without drivers having to leave their vehicles, and drivers themselves should undergo only minimal checks.

Drivers of freight vehicles should not be asked to produce any document other than their identification and driving license and, if necessary, a letter from the employer. The electronic submission/display of documents should be accepted.

In light of the current situation, Member States are also urged to temporarily suspend all road access restrictions currently in place in their territory, such as weekend, night and sectoral bans.

“No freight vehicle or driver should face discrimination, irrespective of origin and destination, the driver's nationality or the vehicle's country of registration,” the Commission has insisted.

Last reviewed 24 March 2020