Slovak truck drivers joined Polish truck drivers on Friday and announced that they would block the Vysne Nemecke border crossing with Ukraine to protest EU policies towards Ukrainian competitors, which they call unfair.
The Slovak truckers union UNAS released a statement saying they want to the EU immediately terminate an agreement with Ukraine that they believe is causing the transport market in Slovakia and Poland to collapse. They are seeking the Slovak Minister of Transport Jozef Raz and representatives of the EU and European Commission (EC) to resolve the issue by reevaluating their contract with Ukraine. UNAS said their blockade will not block trucks containing humanitarian goods, military aid, frozen food or live animals, and they emphasized that they are not opposed to supporting Ukraine during in its war with Russia.
The EU-Ukraine agreement in dispute (DCFTA) was signed in June 2022 and extends to June 2024. It allows Ukrainian trucks to enter the EU without entry permits and allows Ukrainian trucks to use other transport routes via road. The truckers take issue with the fact that neighboring countries’ internal markets are facing massive competition due cheaper prices for Ukrainian services and goods.
Polish drivers started their protest last month with the same requests as Slovak drivers–they intend to uphold the blockage until January 6th if their demands are not met before then. The Polish government recently announced plans to open an extra border crossing with Ukraine for empty trucks in attempt to mitigate the impacts of the truckers’ blockade.
The Slovak government has not yet intervened but the Slovak Transport Ministry plans to communicate the truckers’ demands to the EU leaders in Brussels.