The president of FruitVegetablesEUROPE (Eucofel), and of PROEXPORT (Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruit and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia), Juan Marín Bravo, has expressed his profound concern about the negative impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on the road transport of perishable food, particularly on fresh fruits and vegetables.
In a letter sent to the EU on 19th March, Marín calls for the application of Article 14.2 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in the freight transport by road, in order to harmonise the conditions of competition between the modes of land transport.
This article states:
“In urgent cases, Member States may grant a temporary exception for a period not exceeding 30 days, which shall be notified immediately to the Commission.”
In this way, Member States can deal with situations that present exceptional and sudden circumstances that are inevitable and cannot be foreseen, in which it is unexpectedly impossible to apply the provisions of the Regulation in its entirety for a short period of time.
As Marín details in the letter sent to the European Commission,
“the effects caused by the spread of Covid-19 constitute these exceptional circumstances, which are having an impact on mobility and transport in the EU.”
For this reason, the President of the Commission is requested to transfer measures contemplated in the resolution of March 16, 2020 from the Government of Spain to the EU as a whole, and provide the following:
- Temporarily exempt the operations of transport of goods affected by these circumstances of compliance with the rules established in articles 6.1 and 8.6 of Regulation No. 561/2006.
- The exceptions provided in the first section will apply to drivers who carry out cargo operations throughout the national territory (Spain). These exemptions will be applicable from March 14, 2020 to March 28, 2020, both included.
In this sense, FruitVegetablesEUROPE has requested that the EU and the Member States also apply Article 14.2, as the Spanish Government has done, and also take exceptional measures to ensure that perishable food continues to flow in the EU internal market, “as it is the only way to prevent a shortage of fresh food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables in the EU.” Only with the coordination of these measures at the European level will it be possible to organise the vehicle returns necessary to guarantee circulation throughout the Community territory.