“To ensure that EU-wide supply chains continue to operate, member states are requested to designate, without delay, all the relevant internal border-crossing points on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) as ‘green lane’ border crossings,” the EC says. “The green lane border crossings should be open to all freight vehicles, whatever goods they are carrying. Crossing the border, including any checks and health screening, should not take more than 15 minutes.”

Procedures at green lane border crossings should be minimised and streamlined to what is strictly necessary, and the EC has recommended member states take action to ensure the free movement of all workers involved in international transport regardless of mode.

This includes waiving mandatory quarantine for transport workers not displaying symptoms and removing travel restrictions.

“The EU’s transport network connects the whole of the EU,” says transport commissioner, Ms Adina Vălean. “Our guidance document is intended to protect the EU’s supply chains in these difficult circumstances, and to make sure both goods and transport workers are able to travel to wherever they are needed - without delay. A collective and coordinated approach to cross-border transport is more important today than ever before.

“The green lanes are also specifically designed to protect transport workers at the frontline of this crisis. This set of recommendations will ease their already stressful mission and bring more safety and predictability to their work.”

The guidance has been welcomed by the European Rail Freight Association (ARFA), which says it is essential that the green lanes concept is adopted by member states and built upon by ensuring that critical infrastructure remains accessible 24 hours a day. It also called for strong cooperation between member states and national authorities on rail capacity management.

“Unobstructed freight transport is crucial to maintain availability of goods,” ERFA says. “For rail freight, this means that the green Lanes and the entirety of the TEN-T core network must continue to be accessible 24/7 as well as there being a strong level of capacity management coordination between member states. If any single member states diverts from this 24/7 commitment, it will subsequently mean a green lane cannot operate on a 24/7 basis and the transport of goods will be obstructed.”

“For rail freight to offer a solution to shippers and retailers moving freight internationally, we need predictable and coordinated capacity management,” says ERFA president, Mr Dirk Stahl. “We strongly welcome the good work done by infrastructure managers to date to address these needs. We now need a strong commitment that green lanes will continue to operate around the clock and that any capacity reductions will be done in a coordinated manner and in consultation with rail freight undertakings.”