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Another EU state sees truckers block Ukraine freight at border

Hungarian truckers on Monday staged a demonstration near a checkpoint at the border with Ukraine and are slowing down any trucks attempting to go in or out of the country. The protesters are demanding that Brussels introduce quotas on Ukrainian freight trucks entering the EU.

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According to the M1 TV channel, personal cars and buses are being allowed through the Zahony-Csop checkpoint but demonstrators are only permitting two trucks per hour to cross the border in each direction. As a result, Hungarian police estimate that the waiting time at the Zahony-Csop checkpoint for cars and buses is currently 30 to 60 minutes, while trucks may have to wait for more than 48 hours to leave the country. 

As reported by the Hungarian news outlet Utinform, the tailbacks at the Hungary-Ukraine border have prompted police to redirect some of the trucks to the Romanian border, where there is also now a kilometer-long traffic jam.

The Hungarian hauliers’ demonstration had been sanctioned by the police, which allowed about a dozen trucks to partially block the road leading to the crossing. However, there has been no information about exactly how long the partial blocking of the road would last. Some media outlets have reported that the blockade could last until the end of the month.

The Zahony-Csop crossing protest follows similar demonstrations in Poland and Slovakia in recent weeks, where truckers have also been blocking border crossings with Ukraine, demanding that Brussels restore a permit system for Ukrainian freight carriers crossing into the EU.

The European haulers have insisted that they were being undercut by their colleagues from Ukraine, who were exempted from seeking permits to cross into the bloc after the outbreak of fighting between Russia and Ukraine last year.

On Monday, however, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, Aleksandr Kubrakov, announced that Polish truckers have supposedly agreed to lift their blockade at the Jahodyn-Dorohusk crossing which had been closed since November 6.

Last week, the border blockades in Poland and Slovakia resulted in more than 1,500 trucks being stuck at the crossing between Ukraine and Hungary, forming a 22-kilometer-long line of trucks seeking alternative ways to enter the EU.

In November, members of the International Road Transport Union from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania sent a joint letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, urging her to review the agreement that allows traffic privileges for Ukrainian drivers. The deal is due to expire next June.

However, von der Leyen has insisted that any re-introduction of permits or quotas for road transport from Ukraine is not legally possible, as it would violate the current agreement between Brussels and Kiev.

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