EU urges nations to unblock borders to allow medical supplies

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The European Union (EU) has appealed to member-countries to unblock their borders to allow freight vehicles carrying basic supplies and medical equipment into their territories.

President, European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen released a video statement to the AFP, explained that the border closures were becoming counterproductive as they slowed and sometimes paralysed the transportation of vital supplies, often causing delays and shortages.

According to Ursula, the freight carriers now struggle to deliver the goods by land, sea or air, as the imposed lockdowns are threatening critical supplies in worse-hit countries like Italy.

This weekend we had some crossing points with more than 40 kilometers of queues. This is a waiting time of up to 18 hours. This has to stop,” she said.

The worse hit is the road transport, which accounts for 75% of freight shipments within the European union, particularly around the Polish-German frontier where Warsaw’s decision to shut its borders to non-Poles, leaving Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians unable to return home.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said yesterday many of the problems on that border had been resolved and queues of traffic were now much shorter even though they persist.

The EU appealed its 27 member countries to unblock their borders for the freight carriers to cross one country to the other within 15 minutes, to keep up a steady flow of vital supplies.

The EU executive asked member countries to designate major crossing points as “green lane” border crossings, including for rail, sea and air transport and on waterways.

After enforcing its lockdown, China’s economy appears to be slowly coming back online, even as supply chains in other parts of the world are backing up due to lockdowns.

The U.S. decision to ban foreign visitors has also cut an estimated 85% of U.S. air freight capacity, as vast amounts of goods were transported in the bellies of passenger planes that are now grounded.

The remaining cargo runs are limited, pushing up freight costs for the companies.

Goods from Europe are now being re-routed through places including Mexico and Canada to the United States, companies say, but this delays the delivery and also comes at a price.

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