Several dozen transport company owners blocked three important Polish border crossings with Ukraine on Monday in protest at what they consider unfair competition from companies in the neighboring country.
Trucks lined up at the border checkpoint in Dorohusk, with almost all cargo traffic blocked by protesters who blamed the liberalization of European Union rules for their falling income.
“We want the rules of fair competition to be restored,” Rafal Mekler, co-organizer of the protest, told AFP in Dorohusk.
Following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the EU waived a permit system for Ukrainian transport companies to enter the bloc.
According to Polish companies, the measure caused an influx of Ukrainian competitors into the sector, sinking their profits.
“The costs of maintaining a truck, hiring a driver, opening a business or paying social security are much lower,” Marek Oklinski, owner of a transport company, told AFP in Dorohusk.
“They drive down prices and take away the cargo we used to carry,” Oklinski added.
Protesters similarly blocked the Hrebenne and Korczowa crossings, promising to let passenger traffic and transport with humanitarian or military aid pass.
Poland’s Infrastructure Ministry said Warsaw could not meet the demands of protesting companies by restoring the permit system for Ukrainian transporters, citing EU rules.
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“The agreement was reached by the EU… therefore, in practical terms, Poland cannot reintroduce the permit system with Ukraine until the aforementioned agreement expires,” the ministry said in a statement sent to AFP, asking to protesters to end the blockades. .