”Quotas and Tolls Contradict with The Principle of Free Movement”
Free movement of goods among Member States and conducting commercial activities as easy and without restrictions as possible is the main philosophy of the European Union and the Customs Union. And yet, Turkish companies that conduct transportation to EU member states have to face tolls and visas. We talked to the General Secretary of Economic Development Foundation Assoc. Prof. Dr. Çiğdem NAS about the issue. Nas has stated that the quotas and tolls of some of the EU member states contradict with the free movement principle of the EU market and creates problems in the Customs Union. She has indicated that truck drivers transporting to the EU member states, can only stay a maximum duration of 90 days within the Schengen zone in 180 days and emphasized that this poses an issue for the transportation sector.
“Turkey Is Now a Very Important Part of European Value Chains”
European Union and Customs Union are two important international organizations that we’re internationally bound for international transport of goods. What are the main laws and applications of these two organizations in this area?
Turkey conducts almost half of its exports to the EU market. Therefore, the transportation and logistics sector has a crucial role in the transportation of the products manufactured in Turkey, into this market. Most of the goods manufactured in Turkey and transported to the EU market, are manufactured at facilities found in Turkey using EU capital. That’s why the products transported to the EU market are not just Turkish but also European products. If a company that produces in Turkey, for example a company that manufactures automotive sub-industry products, stops production; it could disrupt automotive production in the EU. So, Turkey is now a very important part of European value chains. In the case of Turkey-EU transportation activities, trucks and lorries that pass through EU countries have to comply with the common laws of the EU road transportation sector as well as their national laws. However, the quotes and tolls of some of the member states contradict with EU’s principle of free movement while posing a problem in the Customs Union.
“Court of Justice Has Ruled That Hungary’s Tolls Against Turkish Lorries Is Against EU Law”
Customs Union prohibits all sorts of customs duties, quantitative restrictions and equivalent measures and fees against industrial products and processed agricultural products traded between Turkey and the EU. Therefore, the additional fees or quotas implemented by countries like Hungary and Austria actually contradict with the spirit and principles of the Customs Union. The European Commission, which is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the EU acquis by the member states, argues that such practices are under the control of the members states and that they are not considered services since they are not directly related with production. However, in one of its decisions in 2017, Court of Justice has ruled that Hungary’s tolls against Turkish lorries is against the EU law and treaties.
“Schengen Visa Rules Cause Problem for The Transportation Sector”
Customs Union establishes a common customs area between Turkey and the EU and it prohibits all sorts of customs duties, quantitative restrictions and equivalent measures and fees against industrial products and processed agricultural products, and ensures their free movement. Additionally, as part of the Customs Union, Turkey is required to adapt to the EU common trade policy and apply the common customs duties to third countries. The Union envisages a highly comprehensive economic integration. However, service and agriculture sectors are not covered the Customs Union. Transportation sector has a crucial role and importance in the transportation of the products manufactured in Turkey, into the EU market. At this point, the restrictions applied by EU member states, the fees and transit quotas for trucks and lorries contradict with this principle of free movement.
“This Is a Non-Tariff Barrier”
Even though it is not directly related to production, since it increases the cost of the products exported to the EU market, it is a non-tariff barrier and it suppresses trade between EU and Turkey. When transporting to the EU, truck drivers are bound by Schengen visa rules and they are permitted to stay inside the Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days in 180 days and these cause problems for the transportation sector. During the hearing of the Soysal case at the European Court of Justice, it was stated that according to the Additional Protocol between the EU and Turkey, truck drivers travelling to Germany to offer services have the right to enter without a visa. However, application of this case has been limited. As a solution to these issues, EU and Turkey could sign an agreement that regulates transportation of goods in between and implement applications like issuing special-category visas to truck drivers, just like sailors.
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