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Physical barriers to trade

Physical barriers to trade

Border blockades, demonstrations, or attacks on trucks can create major obstacles to trade and cause serious economic loses. These physical barriers to trade do not stem from national technical regulations, but from the actions of individuals or national authorities. To ensure the free movement of goods and prevent the creation of physical barriers to trade, an early warning mechanism was established. The Rapid Intervention Mechanism enables the sharing of information on obstacles between all EU countries.

The early warning mechanism was introduced in the Regulation 2679/98. EU countries are required to notify the European Commission in advance of major events such as demonstrations or road works that could negatively affect trade. This information is then shared with all EU countries. Additionally, economic actors can report risks or actual cases to the Commission.

Upon the Commission’s request, EU countries have to send regular updates on the situation in their territory and must give details about the steps taken to get rid of the obstacle. The regulation aims to help apply the principle of the free movement of goods quickly and efficiently.

To this effect, the Commission carried out a formal evaluation of Regulation (EC) No 2679/98 (staff working document and executive summary) supported by an external study. The evaluation covers the period 1999-2019 and builds on the findings of the previous stock-taking exercises carried out by the Commission in 2001 and 2007. This evaluation is an evidence-based assessment of whether the so-called 'strawberry regulation' has been effective in enabling the exchange of information between the Commission and EU countries through the national contact points via the early warning mechanism.

It also analyses whether it has been an efficient tool to address cases of disruptions in the physical movement of goods, and has therefore improved the overall management of obstacles to the free movement of goods in the single market.