Last reviewed 23 February 2021

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has written to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calling for immediate action to prevent barriers to the free movement of goods, in particular Covid-test requirements for truck drivers.

In the letter, which can be found here, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said: “The enormous queues and humanitarian crisis around Dover just before Christmas demonstrated the scale of disruption resulting from one “simple” requirement for a “quick” Covid-19 antigen test.”

He highlighted new measures imposed by Germany, notably at its Austrian (Tyrol) and Czech borders, which are beginning to cause chaos for goods transport by road across Europe. Particularly affected are the important trade routes from Italy northwards across the Brenner Pass and the East-West corridors.

The IRU note that rapid antigen tests are being accepted but point out that they must be conducted by an authorised laboratory, a difficult requirement for lorry drivers working outside their home countries.

More than 7000 trucks move goods on the North-South corridor through Tyrol every day, about the same volume of trucks that use the Dover-Calais corridor, which became the site of December’s chaos when France imposed restrictions that did not exempt professional truck drivers.

Tens of thousands more trucks use the East-West corridor to Germany via the Czech Republic, a major transport route for central European logistics.

“Isolated in their cabin, truck drivers are not exposed to the virus,” Mr de Pretto said, “and they comply with strict measures against possible infection put in place by their employers and their customers, including no physical contact at pick-up and delivery locations.”

The Commission said that it has reinforced the importance of keeping green lanes for trucks operational at all times and emphasised that individual measures by countries must remain proportionate and avoid the disruption of logistics and essential transport.