In the current circumstances, transport of essential goods by water and rail can be a good alternative because it involves less contact between people. This was said by Dutch Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) in a teleconference about the corona crisis with European transport ministers.

At the special meeting of transport ministers, which took place 18 March, Van Nieuwenhuizen stated unorthodox measures are needed to absorb the consequences of the corona crisis for transport, including shipping. She called on all Member States to maintain the free movement of essential goods within the EU, to the maximum extent possible.

Focus of the meeting was on the aviation and road transport sector, but Van Nieuwenhuizen also asked for support for the transport of goods by rail and water.

European measures coming

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said that the European Commission is working on measures to help the aviation and transport sector at this difficult time. For example, the Commission has proposed a temporary derogation from the use-it-or-lose-it rule for the allocation of slots in the aviation sector. Measures for shipping are yet to be determined.

Vălean also pointed to possible actions that Member States could take themselves, such as the creation of ‘Green Lanes’ for the rapid flow of essential goods, in particular at border crossings.

Attention was also drawn to flexibility in, for example, checks on the qualifications of transport workers. At a time when many training courses and exams are not being held, the licences of seafarers, drivers and train drivers, for example, may expire through no fault of their own.