Bregu: The only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food in WB is to simplify and harmonize sanitary controls – a Green Corridor
- 20 Mar 2020
Tirana/Sarajevo – The Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Majlinda Bregu, spoke last night at the Tirana based RTV Klan’s Opinion show, about the major distress in the region after the European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/402, which imposes new rules, for the export of personal protective equipment and medical equipment outside the EU. Below is the excerpt explaining the situation and the need for the WB Green Corridor, on which the RCC, together with the region and other relevant stakeholders, is currently working on.
“The clarification followed that the export of personal protective equipment from the EU to the Western Balkans (WB) is not halted but because of the tremendous needs in all EU now an export authorization should be issued before such equipment is exported outside EU. But, will this ease the things for us? No! But we are all living and trying to deal with a crisis. And that's why we need to keep the corridor opened and functional between the EU and WB at least, for food, medicines and medical equipment in the first place. We have to coordinate better.
However, what is likewise important in this moment is the establishment of a Green Corridor which enables a smooth border crossing of trucks from the EU to the WB, and vice versa, as well as within the WB - for the transport of goods, food, medical equipment and medicines. As we speak, there are very long queues in all the borders across Europe, in those between member states and those among the WB and the EU. Just consider that we have 18 border crossing points with the EU member states, and other 14 among the WB economies. It took 20 hours for a truck from Serbia to enter Serbia from Hungary - to finish with the borders procedures, sanitization and health check of the driver. This is why now is imperative to create such green corridors which will enable trucks transport food, avoid traffic jams that form at the border crossings as a result of border controls, leading to delays in food deliveries or medicines in these times of crises.
For this reason we have started a consultative process with all regional partner organizations and WB so that joint regional actions are initiated to mitigate the consequences of an outbreak of pandemic caused by COVID-19.
The pertinent organizations have already started to envisage possible smart management of pre-arrival data of goods (import, export and transit), and facilitated procedures for priority lanes for food, and medicine to be defined based on electronic data exchange of pre-arrival information on essential goods. Meaning, if a truck has already undergone sanitary control in the EU member state where it departed, there is no need to make again such control in the WB crossing points. This will make sure that, medicines goods and essential services continue to flow in the WB market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food.
The governments have already started to calculate the costs the pandemics that will hamper our economies, and started preparing plans for the re-vitalization. Once the health emergency
passes the economic recovery will be the most difficult phase. There are 350,000 businesses in the WB region, most of them SMEs, bars, restaurant or tourism enterprises. If the EU is expected to face recession as result of this pandemic, (economic recession is expected from 2-10 points), we can also project the disturbing cost of the pandemic in the WB economies. And I’m afraid the cost will be high.”