Polish and Russian transport companies have until February 15 to repatriate trucks inside one another's borders, with Warsaw and Moscow deadlocked over haulage permits, local media reported on February 1.
The deadline has been extended in order to allow firms to bring their lorries home, after the permits expired at the end of January. The two countries, now led by regimes holding no little antipathy towards each other, have failed to seal a new agreement to allow road links to persist.
The pair is set to meet again on the issue on February 1, with a meeting of transport ministers to follow on February 2. The talks are thought unlikely to produce much progress however; the Russians did not show up for the last meeting planned for January 28-29.
Warsaw and Moscow have been negotiating rules for some months. However, talks have failed to agree a new batch of permits for 2016. Poland considers recent changes to Russian transport regulations discriminatory, and claims Moscow is carrying out a plan to eliminate Polish hauliers from the Russian market.
Moscow’s very strict limits on haulage of goods from third countries into Russia have been tweaked to encompass goods produced in Poland by foreign companies, Warsaw claims. It is a means of gaining a competitive advantage on the Russian market, Polish experts claim, pointing out that Polish hauliers are larger and more efficient than their Russian peers.
At stake is an estimated €400mn in annual turnover that Polish transport companies earned last year by moving goods to Russia, according to ZMPD, an organisation of international transport companies in Poland.
Russia is no stranger to rifts with its neighbours in the north east corner of the EU, espcially since the Ukraine crisis kicked off in late 2013. Lithuania's vital transport sector has suffered several hits over the past few years as relations have nose-dived.
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