Speaking today about decisions in some EU countries to close a number of their borders, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:
“Retailers and wholesalers rely on many thousands of suppliers across Europe to ensure that Europe’s consumers can have the daily essentials they need. We have consistently lived up to that obligation all through the COVID pandemic. We also fully support all measures necessary to stop the spread of the virus and its new variants. But this can be done without making border crossing impossible for lorries carrying the goods consumers need. We therefore wish to remind all member states of the real problems which arose for goods traffic and cross-border workers last year when borders were closed, and of the important guidelines the Commission issued to resolve those problems. We all want people to be safe, but also able to have the things they need to help them have as normal a life as the present - abnormal - circumstances allow.”
The first wave of the pandemic last year sparked off a series of border closures which member states believed would help stem the spread of the COVID virus. In doing so, they initially gave little thought to the impact of such closures on cross-border flows of goods which consumers and industry needed to have available every day. They also prevented many thousands of workers living one side of the border getting to their workplaces on the other side. The Commission acted quickly to issue harmonised guidelines which set up ‘green lanes’ for goods traffic and special arrangements for cross-border workers. Those are still valid and vital in the second wave we are experiencing now. We are therefor asking member states, not least those which also act as transit routes for exports from other EU countries, to adhere to those guidelines, and adopt proportionate measures to keep their citizens safe while not unduly hindering the flow of goods and cross-border workers within the single market.