Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Rogue Three Member States And Truck Queues

Nicholas Zalewski
Polish truckers protest the number of Ukranian trucks arriving by closing the border.
Source: Kyiv Independent

The rogue three member states: Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary are back in the spotlight due to the difficulty of truckers from Ukraine having difficulties bringing loads into the European Union from Ukraine. All three member states were outraged that the European Union allowed the grain deal to expire last September. Now truckers in Poland have begun a third week of protests to place restrictions on the number of trucks originating from Ukraine allowed to enter the European Union. In Poland the three major border crossings are all backed up severely with the expected wait time for Ukranian truckers to enter Poland is now estimated to be as much as a month. This has resulted in a humanitarian team being sent by the Ukranian government to give the truck drivers water and food as they wait to enter. There is anger over the delays at the border due to temperatures falling below freezing, endangering the wellbeing of the drivers. On Sunday, november 19th, about 3,000 trucks were in queue to enter Poland from Ukraine.

Farmers have also joined the protests as well in Medyka, a town in southeastern Poland. The farmers intend to completely close the border starting Monday, November 27th. Currently the farmers have been closing the border for several hours a day, but not completely. In order to support their businesses, farmers are demanding assistance in the form of preferential loans and subsidies. Roman Kondrow, who is leading the protesting farmers made it clear that the farmers and truckers support one another. The farmers are allowing passengers along with military and humanitarian aid through the border crossing. The truckers in Dorohusk in eastern Poland initially scheduled to protest until December 3rd but may extend these for an additional one to two months.

Trucks were also backed up at the border between Slovakia and Ukraine but the union that represents truckers in Slovakia claim it is the result of a lone trucker who is blocking the border. There is support however for the protests in Poland and Slovak truckers did block the border for a short amount of time last week to demonstrate their support. The Slovak haulers’ union prefers to wait to see how discussions proceed between the European Union, Poland, and Ukraine before deciding whether or not to officially block the border.

This has led to a significant increase in the number of trucks attempting to enter the European Union from Ukraine via Hungary. As of the fourth week of November there does not appear to be any efforts in Hungary to close border crossings. Hungarian authorities have admitted however that it will be difficult for them to increase the capacity of border crossings to accommodate the large increase in trucks queueing to enter the European Union. This makes it crucial for leaders from the European Union, Poland, and Ukraine to find a solution as soon as possible.

Trucks lined up at the Polish border. Source: Tortoise Media

Trucks originating from third-nations (countries that are not part of the EU) have been exempt from obligatory permits to enter the European Union since the start of Putin’s invasion in February 2022. This has led to a significant increase in the numbers of Ukrainian trucks entering Poland. Now roughly 40,000-50,000 trucks cross the Polish-Ukrainian border each month, twice the number of trucks before the start of the war. 85 percent of the trucks crossing the border are Ukrainian, which explains why farmers and truckers have been protesting as they view the arrival of Ukrainian products as a threat to the Polish economy. The European Union aims to allow Ukrainian products to enter the EU to facilitate the exportation of these goods to nations outside the EU, yet Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia allege that their national economies instead are being flooded with cheaper Ukrainian products putting their own companies at risk.

Donald Tusk, the likely future Prime Minister of Poland. Source: EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

New Government In Poland

As Poland recently held its latest election, PiS has lost and a new government coalition is expected to take power. During the campaign season, Donald Tusk appeared to favor a continuation of the grain deal in order to protect Polish farmers so it is likely he will negotiate on behalf of the farmers and truckers, but he may not be in favor of the two groups closing border crossings between Poland and Ukraine. Donald Tusk was frustrated over what he perceived as a lack of diplomacy between the Polish government and the EU and instead the Polish government took it upon itself to unilaterally ban food products from Ukraine, a violation of its membership to the European Union.


As international trade is the exclusive competency of the European Union, the member states need to bring their grievances to the European Union rather than take actions themselves. These member states risk punishment as member states do not negotiate their own trade agreements with other nations. These protests are also putting the health of the truckers at risk as winter approaches but the time estimate to cross the border continues to lengthen. Farmers and truckers in Poland however made it clear that they demand respect and support. While higher education has been prioritized as the way to succeed, societies must also emphasize that all workers should be respected and play a vital part in societies. For the time being, farmers and truckers are very important in order to produce and deliver food to the rest of the population.

Please Read The Following For More Information:

Culverwell, Dominic. “Trucker protests: Unraveling the standoff between Polish and Ukrainian haulers”. Kyiv Independent. 21 November 2023.

“Slovak border crossing with Ukraine blocked as wider truck protest looms”. Reuters. 21 November 2023.

“Hungary gets Ukrainian truck queues as protests clog Polish, Slovak crossings”. Reuters. 22 November 2023.

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Let’s Tune In To Th…

by Nicholas Zalewski time to read: 4 min