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Protesting Polish truckers say Ukraine talks fail

WARSAW (AFP) – Polish trucking representatives said on Monday that the latest talks with Ukrainian officials had failed to end a dispute over what they call unfair competition from the neighbouring country’s businesses.

The hauliers say the easing of EU access rules in the wake of the war in Ukraine has led to an influx of Ukrainian competition, taking a serious toll on their earnings.

In response, Polish truckers began blockades last week of three major border crossings.

On Monday, some of the protesting truckers met with representatives of the Ukrainian and  Polish governments.

“We have not reached an agreement. The Ukrainian side does not take our demands into account,” Rafal Mekler, a leader of a protest in the border town of Dorohusk, said on social media.

Polish transportation companies want to reinstate the use of EU entry permits for Ukrainian trucks, a system waived by the bloc following the war.

A Ukrainian official said on Monday his side would not “back down” and called on Polish truckers to end the blockade immediately. “The absurdity of the demand is that the Polish protesters are not addressing their government, but want Ukraine to apply to the EU for permits,” he added.

Polish truckers are also criticising an electronic registration system for leaving Ukraine once deliveries are complete, resulting in long waits that Mekler said could reach 11 to 12 days.

Trucks near the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Dorohusk, Poland. PHOTO: AFP