Transport to lose billions from EU border checks
EUobserver understands transport experts at the European Commission are analysing the potential economic blowback should border controls become more severe throughout the passport-free Schengen area.
Arrien Kruyt, vice-chair of the Meijers Committee, a Dutch independent experts' group, told this website the European Commission is analysing possible transport costs should internal borders reappear.
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Kruyt, who attended a meeting on the issue with commission officials at its transport branch on 28 January, said on Thursday (4 February) conservative figures put forward hover at "around €6 billion".
The commission's transport spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the study or the figure but instead referred back to a speech earlier this week at the European Parliament by EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on safeguarding Schengen.
Juncker had previously said at a press conference that border checks in Europe would cost road transport companies €3 billion a year in lost revenue.
Juncker's €3 billion figure comes from the Geneva-based International Road Transport Union (IRU), an association that represents bus, coach, taxi and truck operators.
Its branch in Brussels told EUobserver the real figure is likely between 3 to €10 billion, depending on border delays.
"The potential for just the road transport industry could be as high as €10 billion depending how severe the delays and border crossings become," said IRU spokesperson Stuart Colley.
Around 6 million people are employed in land and passenger transport with several million trucks transporting goods throughout the EU on a daily basis.
Colley cited estimated costs per vehicle somewhere between €55 and €70 per hour of delay.
"That is in terms of fuel, lost contracts, in terms of drivers' wages," he said.
Other possible factors include penalties for delivery delays, which may force companies to hire out more truckers to provide the same service. Perishable goods like food may also be at risk.
Trade between EU states in 2013 was €2.8 trillion.
The European Commission, for its part, briefly highlighted the concerns in its 200-page Winter Economic Forecast.
The report, out Thursday, says "the long term reintroduction of internal border controls" may disrupt economic growth in the internal market.
It notes the public perception of the increased number of refugee numbers may also thwart economic confidence.
Economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici said any risk to Schengen would be "political and an economic mistake".
In a study published earlier this week, French public think-tank France Strategie estimated the total loses throughout the EU at over €100 billion by 2025.
"Widespread permanent border controls would decrease trade between Schengen countries by a factor of 10 percent to 20 percent," it noted.