Joint customs control will be introduced on Ukraine’s border with Poland in an effort to speed up procedures and begin integration with EU markets, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Sunday. Earlier his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda became the first foreign head of state to speak in the Ukrainian parliament since the outbreak of the war.
“We are introducing joint customs controls with Poland,” said Zelensky in a speech published online, quoted by the Rzeczpospolita daily.
“This will significantly speed up procedures at the border. It will also remove most of the corruption risks. But it is also the beginning of our integration into the common customs space of the European Union. This is a truly historic process,” said Zelensky.
The issue of waiting times at the border was a point of contention between the countries prior to the Russian invasion, with Ukraine preparing to sue the European Union over Poland’s refusal to increase the number of freight permits.
Following the outbreak of war, however, Ukraine and Poland resolved to conclude a bilateral agreement on joint border and customs control as soon as possible, said Zelensky, as reported by the Ukrinform news agency.
The joint customs procedure will reduce registration and queuing times significantly, said Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubakov. The minister also expressed hope that the successful experience of such cooperation can be extended to checkpoints with other EU neighbours.
“Our goal is to fully liberalise truck transport with the EU,” said Kubakov. “We have already succeeded in partially liberalising freight transport, and I am particularly grateful to Poland for allowing lorries carrying fuel to Ukraine to pass through without permits.”
Kubakov added that the countries are working to establish a joint railway company to increase the export potential of the Ukrainian economy. Joint border and customs controls are already taking place at four border crossing points on the Ukrainian-Polish border, reports Ukrinform.
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 22, 2022
Clearance time for lorries had been getting longer in recent years due to the poor permeability of the border crossings, reports Rzeczpospolita. Some drivers were having to wait up to several days to cross.
In 2021 trade between the two countries exceeded €48 billion, of which Polish exports accounted for €29 billion, according to Statistics Poland (GUS), a state agency.
During Duda’s visit to Kyiv on Sunday, he and his Ukrainian counterpart also discussed the issues of defence support for Ukraine and tightening sanctions against Russia, reports Ukrinform.
Zelensky said that relations between the country are “finally completely free of quarrels and the legacy of old conflicts”, reports Rzeczpospolita. “I would like the brotherhood between Ukrainians and Poles to last forever…As I said today before parliamentarians, our unity of Ukrainians and Poles is a constant that no one will break.”
Main image credit: Jakub Szymczuk/KPRP
Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.