Poland tightens controls on border with Ukraine amid truckers' protests

The Polish government announced on Dec. 2 that it would tighten controls on Ukrainian trucks crossing the Polish border, which was one of the demands of Poland's protesting haulers.

Polish truckers started blocking three border crossing points on Nov. 6 in protest of the liberalization of EU transport rules for Ukrainian trucks, causing huge lines on both sides of the border.

The two sides did not discuss canceling or changing the visa-free regime between the two countries, which the protesters demanded.

Still, the Polish government said it would crack down on "unscrupulous competition on the transport market."

On Dec. 1, Poland and Ukraine agreed to take steps to ease the border truck blockages caused by Polish protesters.

After meeting for talks in Warsaw, Ukrainian and Polish representatives agreed to open a crossing point for empty trucks at Uhryniv-Dolhobychuv border crossing, create separate electronic passes for empty vehicles at the Yahodyn-Dorohusk and Krakivets-Korczowa crossing points and launch a pilot electronic queueing system.

An organizer of the protests, Rafal Mekler, tweeted an intention to extend the blockade until Feb. 1, 2024. Mekler is the owner of a logistics firm and a member of the far-right Confederation party in Poland, which has been vocally pro-Russian and skeptical of Ukraine.

The protesting haulers complain that the high number of Ukrainian drivers entering Poland are hauling goods from Poland to other countries, undercutting local businesses that cannot match cheaper Ukrainian prices.

Ukrainian officials and industry representatives deny the accusations. The EU has warned the Polish government to ensure the end of the blockade.

Although the protesting Polish truckers said that the blockade would only apply to non-essential goods, Ukrinform reported on Nov. 20 that trucks carrying humanitarian aid or fuel and other essential goods had been on standby at the border for days.

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