EUROPEN says it is doing its utmost to maintain the supply of food, hygiene products and medicines to citizens throughout Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is calling on the European Commission to guarantee the uninterrupted flow of (packaged) goods, to recognise packaging and its raw materials and to open 'green lanes' for intra-EU transport.
It said in a statement: ‘EUROPEN supports the decisive measures taken by national governments and the European Commission to contain the spread of COVID-19.’
It is monitoring developments and reviewing the effectiveness of these implemented measures and calls on the Commission and EU governments to ensure production facilities for packaging supply-chains continue operating as needed, while making sure the necessary specific COVID-19 health, safety and security measures for the workforce are in place.
Packaging is an essential component of the product groups which is identified by the Commission as critical, such as “health-related and perishable goods, notably foodstuffs”.
To support the self-isolation measures encouraged by national governments and the Commission, a well-functioning packaging supply chain is critical to ensure uninterrupted delivery of pre-packed goods safely from factories, through retail and e-commerce, to consumers.
“We welcome the recent Commission guidance on border management to establish a coordinated EU response and urge Member States to observe it. However, delays and disruption at country borders have been observed for the delivery of (packaged) products and packaging materials,” a EUROPEN spokeman said.
“As a matter of priority, we call on the Commission to lead on securing the enabling conditions necessary for continuity of essential product and service supply chains by creating ‘green lanes’ for free-movement of essential goods, vehicles and their drivers, as well as essential engineers.”
The European Commission presented guidelines to Member States on health-related border management measures in the context of the COVID-19 emergency last week.
It said its aim is to protect citizens' health, ensure the right treatment of people who do have to travel, and make sure essential goods and services remain available.
President von der Leyen said: “Our measures to contain the Coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if we coordinate on the European level. We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But let's make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food. It's not only an economic issue: our single market is a key instrument of European solidarity. I am in discussion with all Member States so that we confront this challenge together, as a Union.”
It added free circulation of goods is crucial to maintain availability of goods such as food supplies including livestock, medical and protective equipment and supplies. More generally, control measures should not cause serious disruption of supply chains, essential services of general interest and of national economies and the EU economy as a whole. Member States should designate priority lanes for freight transport (e.g. via ‘green lanes').
In response to the announcement, FEFCO says the Corrugated Industry is producing enough transport packaging for those sectors that are essential now, such as pharmaceuticals, food and drinks or medical equipment.
Most corrugated cardboard plants in Europe are working at full speed to ensure the deliveries of corrugated packaging to these essential sectors. Almost all plants are fully functional, so far transport of raw materials has not become a major problem.
“The industry urges governments to keep the borders open and make it easy for the trucks to pass as such transports are vital for the medical and food sectors,” said Angelika Christ, secretary general, FEFCO
The EU Commission has issued guidelines for an effective border management, protecting health while preserving the integrity of the internal market to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food.
While adapting the recommendations of WHO and other institutions in the plants, the companies minimise the risk of shutdowns there due to Corona.
Headquartered in Brussels, FEFCO has 17 association members, all European national corrugated packaging organisations.
It has 401 companies, 700 plants and accounts for 100,000 jobs.