Today (23 March), the European Commission 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, 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. The 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.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "The outbreak of coronavirus has a major impact on European transport. The measures introduced to slow down the spread of the virus have also slowed down and sometimes paralyzed transport. Today we issue guidelines on the ‘green lanes’ to member states. I set four objectives to make real progress on Europe’s roads.
"First, crossing the border on a green lane should take maximum 15 minutes. Second, the green lanes should be open to vehicles carrying any type of goods. Third, national governments should suspend restrictions – for instance bans to drive at weekends, or at night. Fourth, we need to reduce the paperwork for transport workers of all nationalities, to enable them to cross borders more rapidly.”
Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said: “The EU's transport network connects the whole of the EU. Our guidance document is intended to protect the EU's supply chains in these difficult circumstances and to make sure both goods and transport workers are able to travel to wherever they are needed – without delay. 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.”
Green lane border crossings
Procedures at green lane border crossings will be minimized and streamlined to what is strictly necessary. 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.
No freight vehicle or driver should face discrimination, irrespective of origin and destination, the driver's nationality or the vehicle's country of registration.
In light of the current situation, EU countries are also urged to temporarily suspend all road access restrictions currently in place in their territory, such as weekend, night and sectoral bans.
The Commission encourages member states to set up safe passage transit corridors to allow private drivers and their passengers, such as health and transport workers, as well as EU citizens being repatriated, regardless of their nationality, to directly pass with priority through the country in each necessary direction along the TEN-T Network. This should be done while staying strictly on the designated route and to take the necessary minimum rest breaks. member states should ensure that they have at least one airport functional for repatriation and international relief flights.