Ukraine and Poland agreed on an action plan to unblock the Ukrainian-Polish border, the Ministry for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine reported.
Ukrainian truckers have been blocked from crossing the border at four checkpoints with Poland since 6 November due to Polish haulers’ protests.
On 22 December, Serhii Derkach and Yurii Vaskov, Deputy Ministers for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure of Ukraine, met with the newly appointed Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Poland, Paweł Gancarz, to reach a compromise solution and unblock the border.
It was a follow-up meeting between Ukrainian and Polish officials after previous agreements on the border were reached by Oleksandr Kubrakov (the Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration of Ukraine and Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development) and Minister of Infrastructure of Poland Dariusz Klimczak during the bilateral talks on 20 December.
“The key result of the meeting is the agreement on common positions to unblock the border. The parties reached an understanding on compromise solutions and their implementation. The next stage is negotiations at the level of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Poland and the protesters,” the Ministry for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine announced.
According to the Ministry for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials have not discussed the changes to the current agreement on freight transportation liberalization, as Polish carriers demand.
“Ukraine welcomes the willingness of the Polish government to engage in dialogue to unblock the border and its readiness to work on solutions that will facilitate the free movement of exports and imports across the border,” the Ministry for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine stated.
After the Ukrainian-Polish negotiations, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Poland, Paweł Gancarz, said that the border could be unblocked by Christmas.
The blockade organized by Polish haulers’ protesters continues at four checkpoints on the Ukrainian-Polish border: Yahodyn, Rava-Ruska, Krakovets, and Shehyni. Recently, the direction of the Yahodyn-Dorohusk border crossing was unblocked. However, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine-Western Border said the blockade has resumed on 18 December.
The Polish truck drivers launched the strike over concerns about increased competition from Ukrainian haulers after the liberalization of cross-border shipping rules between Ukraine and the EU. The striking drivers demand that permits for Ukrainian trucks making commercial transports into Poland be revoked and licenses introduced instead. This would require a decision of the European Commission contrary to Ukraine’s EU integration.
The blockade has caused enormous queues at border points, with wait times stretching days, even weeks. Drivers face frigid temperatures with limited access to facilities while waiting to cross. The dire conditions have already claimed three lives and continue prompting urgent calls for Polish authorities to intervene.