EU Red Tape Blockades Thousands of Trucks at Bulgaria's Non-EU Borders
A new requirement for an EU "safety and security declaration" has led to enormous lines of trucks at Bulgaria's borders with Turkey and Serbia that are external for the EU.
The lines on both sides of the border at the Kapitan Andreevo and Lesovo crossings on the Bulgarian-Turkish border and the Kalotina crossing on the Bulgarian-Serbian border spanned for a dozen kilometers as of late Wednesday night, according to the private channel bTV.
As of January 1, 2011, an EU regulation requires that all trucks crossing EU's external borders submit safety and security declarations. There are two ways to do that – online and on the spot using the help of private customs agents.
Few of the hundreds of truck drivers waiting in line at Bulgaria's non-EU borders had submitted the required documents online, and most had no idea there was such a new EU regulation. As a result, the average waiting time for a truck to cross the Bulgarian-Serbian border is 24 hours.
The Customs Agency has explained that it had undertaken the proper information campaign to make sure that the transport companies are aware of the new EU requirement; the institution made it clear that an online declaration for crossing Bulgaria's non-EU borders can be submitted only by transport firms registered in Bulgaria and having valid electronic signatures.
This means that everybody else – plus those who had not heard about the new regulation - crossing the border with a load of goods has to use the services of private customs agents, who appear to be making quick money as a result of the new EU requirement.
The price of the service has not been regulated yet, and according to the intermediaries it depends on the specific load of each truck, but is at least EUR 20 per border crossing.
The Customs Agency says that the logic of the new EU regulation is to have the transport firms submit the required declaration online. But until more truck firms start doing that, the private customs agents at Kalotina and Kapitan Andreevo will make enormous profits.
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