Dozens of transport company owners on Monday closed three major Polish border crossings with Ukraine in protest against what they say is unfair competition from the neighboring country’s companies.
Trucks lined up at the border checkpoint in Dorohosk, where protesters stopped almost all movement of goods, blaming the liberalization of EU rules for a decline in their revenues.
“We want to restore the rules of fair competition,” Rafal Mikler, one of the protest organisers, told AFP in Dorohosk.
Following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the European Union waived the permit regime for Ukrainian transport companies to enter the bloc.
According to Polish companies, this move led to an influx of Ukrainian competitors into the sector, which led to a decline in their profits.
“The costs of servicing a truck, hiring a driver, just opening a business or paying social insurance are much lower,” Marek Oklinski, a transport company owner, told AFP in Dorohosk.
“They’re driving prices down and taking away the merchandise we were carrying,” Oklinski added.
The demonstrators set up similar barriers at the crossings in Hrebin and Korczou, and pledged to allow passenger traffic as well as transportation carrying humanitarian or military aid to pass.
Poland’s Infrastructure Ministry said Warsaw could not meet the demands of protesting companies by restoring the permit system for Ukrainian airlines, citing EU rules.
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“The agreement was reached by the European Union… Therefore, in practice, Poland cannot re-apply the permit system with Ukraine until the aforementioned agreement expires,” the ministry said in a statement sent to Agence France-Presse, calling on the demonstrators to end the closures. .
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