eu border delays

Coronavirus cross-border trade measures: New EU and national guidelines

The EU and its member states launched new measures for cross-border trade to protect health and the supply of essential goods within the EU. Here an overview.

EU measures: Essential supplies and green lanes

On March 16, 2020, the EU Commission released guidelines for border measures to protect health and keep goods and essential services available. The guidelines' key goal is to protect EU citizens' health, ensure the right treatment of people who do have to travel, and make sure essential goods and services remain available. 

One part of the new guidelines refer to the free movement of goods between EU member states, which is crucial to maintain availability of goods. This is particularly important for essential goods such as food supplies including livestock, vital medical and protective equipment, and supplies. 

The EU Commission has emphasized that the new control measures do not aim to and should not cause serious disruption of supply chains, essential services of general interest, and of national economies and the EU economy as a whole. 

To ease the flow of goods, EU member states have also been asked to designate priority lanes for freight transport and cross-border trade. This involves designating all relevant internal cross-border points of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T and additional ones as necessary) as “green lane” border crossings – for land (road and rail), sea, and air transport. 

Official Communication from the EU Commission on "Green Lanes"

EU border crossings: National rules and restrictions 

As the Coronavirus crisis and response measures proceed at a different pace in the various EU member states, regulations and obligations develop dynamically. Changes are implemented frequently and there are additional requirements to meet on local level, as many EU countries have implemented national transport restrictions as well.   

While many of these local rules of transport refer to new restrictions, some also feature a relaxation of existing regulations to support essential movements of goods: France, for example, initially increased the maximum daily drive-time limit from nine hours to ten, while neighboring Luxembourg has chosen to increase the weekly limit from 56 to 60 hours. And Germany opted for relaxing their local transport restrictions on Sundays and public holidays. 

It's a great challenge for manufacturers and traders to keep all requirements and developments on screen.

Overview of EU border waiting times for trucks

So while the free movement of goods within the EU is generally still in place, the various measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus have already caused great havoc for transportation networks. 

And companies are also experiencing major traffic jams around EU borders and significantly increased waiting times at various EU cross-border points.  

Free access to a useful interactive map has been made available by the software provider Sixfold. It shows the waiting times for trucks at European borders. This may be helpful for cross-border supply chain and route planning teams: 

Truck border crossing times - Interactive Map by Sixfold