Such initiatives have led IRU to call on the European Commission for support of free intra-EU transport of goods by road at Schengen and other intra-EU borders and efficient truck flows across the EU’s external road borders, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The request comes after trucks used to wait to cross Romania’s border with Hungary and Bulgaria for an average of six hours per crossing, which could go up to 72 hours, but now trucks are waiting at Bulgaria’s external EU borders for four to five days, as road good transport companies from Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Greece, Romania and Türkiye inform.
IRU says that the cost of truck waiting times at some internal EU borders was “unacceptably high.”
For example, 3.9 million trucks entered or exited Romania (excluding transit) in 2022 via its 18 border crossing points with Hungary and Bulgaria. Waiting times at these crossings varied between 30 minutes and 72 hours, with an average of six hours per crossing, totalling 23.5 million hours of time wasted for drivers, trucks and the goods they carry needing to get to market. This directly cost transport operators €90 million, with an additional €2.32 billion in lost annual revenues.
Emphasising that the sector fully agrees with Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to the EU’s passport-free travel zone, IRU Secretary General Umberto Pretto, in the letter addressed to the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, urged the EU to support several recommendations “to keep road foods transport flowing efficiently within the EU.”
As part of the recommendations, IRU has called on the relevant EU states, especially Bulgaria, to increase inception capacity at their external EU land borders in order to reduce waiting times for identity checks of professional drivers.
Additionally, the organisation urged EU countries to follow the TIR Convention rules and procedures, which state that sealed road vehicles carrying goods under the TIR procedure shall not undergo inspections at Customs offices along the way, while encouraging these states to provide clear information about anticipated waiting times at external borders.
Bulgaria and Romania will join Schengen partially by air and sea from March 31with the Council of the EU stressing that the land border accession date for both countries will be determined after March 31.
However, the National Union of Road Hauliers from Romania (UNTRR) has called on the Romanian and European authorities to establish a clear date for the accession of these two countries by land as well, after, as the organisation notes, remaining outside Schengen Area has cost the road freight industry €2.41 billion in losses.
At the same time, the head of one of the largest employers’ organisations in Bulgaria, Wasil Walev, recently urged for stringent controls on Austrian drivers and their vehiclesconsidering them to be reflective of the measures introduced on Bulgarian drivers and vehicles.