EU struggles to keeps goods moving amid border closures

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By Darren McCaffrey
BelOrta, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium
BelOrta, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium   -  Copyright  John Thys/ EU

People and goods are stuck at Poland’s border crossings after the country essentially closed itself off last Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Brussels is not happy and argues that the movement of goods — the single market — must be maintained.

“I had several phone calls, with the Polish prime minister and it was good to hear that he said to the member states that they are working at the moment, first of all on the fast track, on the green lanes and to make sure there is a corridor that is important for the lorries," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Von der Leyen announced plans earlier this week to introduce fast track or green lanes at borders to ensure goods — such as essential medical supplies and food for supermarkets — continues to flow.

Poland is only one of twelve EU countries to so far introduce border controls.

This in turn led the European Union to close its external border - an attempt to ensure that internally goods and people can still flow.

However, there are concerns about drivers, with many returning home as the virus spreads, leading to shortages

"Last week we had one person, who we have taken home together with the truck (from Italy)," Ákos Sódar, CEO of Speed Log, told Euronews. 

"We are supposed to change drivers this weekend but already five of them who should go signalled that they do not intend to work while this epidemic lasts. I think from next week, half of the fleet will stop because of the lack of the drivers."

The coronavirus has so far tested health care systems and economies. 

But if borders continue to close, it will test movement of goods, the movement of our food and the single market itself.