EU to help Ukraine with Solidarity Lanes
The Commission has presented a set of actions to help Ukraine export its agricultural produce. Since Ukrainian ports are being blocked by Russia, Ukrainian grain and other agricultural goods can no longer reach their destinations. The situation is threatening global food security and there is an urgent need to establish alternative logistics routes using all relevant transport modes. Therefore, the Commission set out an action plan to establish ‘Solidarity Lanes' to ensure Ukraine can export grain, but also import the goods it needs, from humanitarian aid to animal feed and fertilisers.
There are currently thousands of wagons and lorries waiting for clearance on the Ukrainian side. The average current waiting time for wagons is 16 days, while it is up to 30 days at some borders. More grain is still stored and held back in Ukrainian silos ready for export. Among the challenges are differing rail gauge widths: Ukrainian wagons are not compatible with most of the EU rail network, so most goods need to be transhipped to lorries or wagons that fit the EU standard gauge. This process is time-consuming and transhipment facilities along the borders are scarce.
To address these obstacles and set up the Solidarity Lanes, the Commission will work on the following priority actions in the short term:
- Additional freight rolling stock, vessels and lorries;
- Capacity of transport networks and transhipment terminals;
- Customs operations and other inspections;
- Storage of goods on the territory of the EU.
In the medium to long term, the Commission will also work on increasing the infrastructure capacity of new export corridors and on establishing new infrastructure connections in the framework of the reconstruction of Ukraine. The next round of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) calls for proposals will allow support for projects improving transport connections to Ukraine, including railway connections and rail-road terminals. Against this background, the Commission adopted a Decision with a view to signing a high-level agreement with Ukraine, updating the maps for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), as part of the Commission's policy on extending the TEN-T to neighbouring countries.
Image © European Commission
07 November 2023