The demand of Polish truckers, who are on strike near the Ukrainian-Polish border, for the reintroduction of trucking permits for Ukrainian carriers has no chance of success. This is because all member states of the European Union have ratified the Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union on the Carriage of Freight by Road, which was signed between the European Union and Ukraine, not between Ukraine and individual member states.
Mustafa Nayem, the head of Ukraine’s State Agency for Reconstruction and Development of Infrastructure, wrote this in a statement on Facebook on 7 November, the CFTS portal reports, citing the Interfax Ukraine news agency.
"Now, it is very important to calmly declare and establish two important theses. First, Ukraine does not even intend to discuss a return to the system of permits," Nayem wrote.
"Second, the main reason for the signing of the Ukraine-EU Agreement on the Carriage of Freight by Road was the violation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the EU. The war has only accelerated this process, and we are grateful to all our neighbors and partners for this," Nayem added.
According to him, the DCFTA Agreement prohibits deterioration of the conditions for mutual market access. He noted that Poland granted Ukraine quotas of 200,000 permits in 2016 and 120,000 permits in 2021 and that the total volume of trade between Ukraine and the EU increased by almost 45%.
According to Nayem, Poland has also directly violated Ukraine's rights, particularly under Article 5 (Freedom of Transit) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to which Ukraine acceded on 5 February 2008. This article stipulates that “there shall be freedom of transit through the territory of each contracting party, via the routes most convenient for international transit, for traffic in transit to or from the territory of other contracting parties.”
"For example, we lost up to EUR 500 million in 2021 alone because of the crisis involving Polish permits, simply because the permits expired, and the Polish side refused to issue new permits. If anyone remembers, the market simply stood still then," Nayem wrote.
He emphasized that the system of permits was an artificial barrier to free trade, restricting not only bilateral trade but also the transit of Ukrainian goods to the EU.
"And I really hope that we will never return to this shameful and discriminatory practice that restricted our trade with the EU," he wrote.
As previously reported, Polish truckers are blocking the passage of trucks through the border crossings Korczowa - Krakovets, Hrebenne - Rava-Ruska, and Dorohusk - Yahodyn.
According to one of the organizers of the protest, the blockade is not directed against Ukraine but is aimed at achieving "equal opportunities" with Ukrainian carriers.
The protesters’ main demands to the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure include the reintroduction of Polish permits for Ukrainian carriers. "Not necessarily the same number as before the war, but we want them to be reintroduced."
As reported earlier, Ukraine and the European Union signed the Agreement on the Carriage of Freight by Road, which eliminates the need for Ukrainian carriers to obtain permits for transit and bilateral international carriage operations between the European Union and Ukraine, on 29 June 2022.
From the signing of the agreement to March 2023, the number of Ukrainian carriers crossing the border into the European Union increased by 53% and the number of crossings increased by 43% compared with the corresponding period in 2021.