The “Solidarity Lanes” initiative, launched by the European Commission in Ukraine in May 2022, has a broader and deeper meaning than solving the problems of Ukrainian exports and imports in the wartime. The Initiative allows Ukraine to create new routes of communication and logistics chains and connections with European countries and their territories with the rest of the world – not as a victim of military aggression, but as a full-fledged player in the European market and a full member of the European Union.
This was the conclusion reached by the participants of the expert discussion “Conditions for the Success of the “Solidarity Lanes”. What should we expect from the Initiative in 2023?”, held by the Think Tank “Europe without barriers” on January 31, 2023, with the participation of representatives of central executive authorities, border state and military administrations, international experts and agricultural business.
According to EWB Executive Director Iryna Sushko, 2023 should be a crucial year both in terms of structuring the Initiative and distributing responsibilities for its tasks, as well as in terms of allocating and distributing funds for its implementation.
“The strategy for implementing the Initiative should be formed not for the short term – until victory, but for the long term – 5-10 years, and the distribution of funds allocated for it this year should be based on the projected needs of Ukraine when it has already become an EU member,” she emphasized.
She was supported by Olha Trofimtseva, Chairman of the Board of the Assembly of Agrarian Chambers of Ukraine, President of the Ukrainian Agri-Food Platform, Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, who noted that after the war, when Ukraine will go through the EU integration process, all the communication routes – road, rail, river – developed within the framework of the Initiative will allow it to integrate harmoniously into the European transportation system.
“It’s no secret that the volume of Ukrainian exports is currently stressful and unbearable for European capacities, which is why we must be smart about implementing the Initiative – not only to solve the temporary problems caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the blockade of Ukrainian seaports, but also to comprehensively expand the bottlenecks in the transportation of Ukrainian products via European routes,” emphasized O. Trofimtseva.
In her turn, EWB border management expert Yevheniia Hryhorieva, who has been monitoring the success of the Initiative since its launch, noted that the Initiative’s action plan currently includes 6 priority measures.
“4 of them are aimed at promptly eliminating transport delays, in particular at the borders, and 2 are aimed at improving connectivity between Ukraine, the EU and Moldova in the medium and long term,” she specified.
At the same time, the expert believes that the uninterrupted and efficient operation of existing logistics and communication platforms, the introduction of transport and customs visa-free regimes, as well as the increase in the capacity of some border crossing points and the improvement of technical equipment in rail transportation are significant achievements of the Initiative’s operational activities.
Thus, the “EU-Ukraine business matchmaking platform” and the “Grainlanes” platform, as well as a significant number of bilateral and trilateral working groups, facilitate the establishment of contacts along supply chains and the provision of additional transport, while “transport and customs visa-free regimes” have accelerated the transportation of goods to the EU, Moldova, and a number of other countries by abolishing transportation permits and simplifying the declaration of goods.
“In particular, the “transport visa-free regime” with the EU and 4 other countries contributed to a quarter increase in exports and imports of goods by trucks. These steps were, of course, preceded by “economic visa-free regime”, which, thanks to the abolition of import duties and quotas on agricultural products, greatly simplified trade with the EU and other countries,” she said.
Y. Hryhorieva noted that the most significant increase in border capacity occurred in the Polish direction, where the capacity of the BCP “Krakivets-Korchova” was significantly increased, heavy trucks were allowed to cross 4 out of 8 BCPs and the BCP “Ustyluh” was designated for empty vehicles.
“In addition, the key successes of 2022 are the agreement in principle on the text of the joint control agreement with Poland with the involvement of the Ministry of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine to this process and the simplification of phytosanitary, sanitary and veterinary inspections at BCPs as much as possible with the assistance of the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection,” she emphasized.
According to her, the connection across the southern Romanian border has also improved significantly, where the rapid and successful rehabilitation of ports on the Danube, as well as the construction of grain storage facilities and terminals, including near ports, have resulted in a threefold increase in trade turnover and a fourfold increase in exports.
At the same time, the development of transshipment complexes at the border by the business, as well as the rapid expansion of the production of trolleys for moving cars from wide to narrow gauge by Ukrainian Railways JSC, increased the capacity of railway junctions along the entire border.
The main achievements in the implementation of medium- and long-term measures, the expert called “the inclusion of 3 Ukrainian highways in the TEN-T network, the restoration of railway communication with Romania and Moldova in several directions, the completion of the reconstruction and electrification of the Kovel-Izov-State border on polish direction, as well as the opening of the road BCP “Krasnoilsk” for the departure of empty vehicles, which significantly improved the connection between Ukraine and Romania”.
“Today, 20 road and 13 rail BCPs and 3 Danube ports are the export-import gateways of Ukraine for the implementation of the Initiative. Another 3 Black Sea ports have been unblocked as part of the Grain Initiative,” she summarized.
Press office of the NGO “Europe without Barriers”