The y called all of their 30 or so truck drivers in the Czech Republic who were supposed to be driving to Germany for the Schwarz forwarding company in the coming days – and immediately ordered them to take part in the corona test. At the same time, they filled out digital entry registration forms for each driver: as the federal government also requires for goods transport from the Czech Republic. The forwarding company, which specializes in transports to the Czech Republic, has thus fulfilled all of the new regulations.
Scenes like in the first Corona wave
It is the first working day on which the rigid entry rules at the borders with the Czech Republic and Tyrol apply. The federal government decided to do so: with the aim of containing even more contagious variants of the coronavirus. Single-handedly. Without adequately involving the neighboring states. Not to mention the EU Commission, which is trying to ensure that freight traffic is as free as possible – and has been disgraced by Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU).
It’s not that far this time. But economists warn of serious damage to the economy if traffic jams persist. The Association of the Automotive Industry warns that production in some plants could come to a standstill. And the freight forwarders are appalled.
“We will not allow Tyrol to become Europe’s parking lot”
“Our industry is upset,” says Frank Huster, General Manager of the Federal Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (DSLV) to SPIEGEL. You understand that politics must react to the mutations. But: “ The se measures are excessive. Our drivers hardly have any outside contact on their tours. ”
According to Huster, the regulations are inconsistent. If the truck drivers are German citizens, they usually have to quarantine for five to ten days after entering Germany, said the DSLV managing director. Foreign truckers, on the other hand, are also subject to the obligation to isolate themselves, but they often lack suitable accommodation.
“ The warning from the automotive industry about plant closures due to entry restrictions shows very clearly how vulnerable the supply chains are at the moment,” said Torsten Schmidt, economic director of the Essen economic research institute RWI, to SPIEGEL. »Should this step actually become necessary, the expected decline in GDP in the first quarter would be much stronger than previously assumed. The lockdown would then probably not last very long economically. ”
“If the problems persist at the borders to Tyrol and the Czech Republic, there may again be disruptions in the supply chains and thus a burden on German industrial production,” warns Sebastian Dullien, Scientific Director of the Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK). “That would put a strain on economic growth in the first quarter of 2021.”
At VW, nervousness is increasing
The automotive industry is particularly dependent on intact supply chains. It has advanced so-called just-in-time production, i.e. the precise delivery of components in terms of time and quantity, depending on current requirements. For some time now, she has also known the downtime when important parts are suddenly missing from the line – and has therefore created appropriate buffers in the warehouses.
Nevertheless, the nervousness is already growing at Volkswagen: especially with regard to the important electrical plant in Zwickau. The supply chain has not yet been broken, they say. But watch the situation closely.
The car manufacturers in southern Germany are a little more relaxed. “ The problems with interrupted supply chains have already come to light in the past, so we are now prepared for them,” says Jörg Howe, Head of Communications at Daimler. Currently, the effects of the border closings are not yet felt.
In response to a request from SPIEGEL, BMW announced that the first deliveries had arrived without any major delays. One hopes “for a pragmatic and efficient approach by the authorities in the controls at the border crossings in order to maintain supplies.”
A Porsche spokesman describes the situation in a similar way: “At the moment, supply problems are not an issue with us.” The situation is different if the border closings lasted longer, he admitted when asked. However, he is not assuming such a worst-case scenario.
However, the borders must not be closed for very long: “ The se supply chains are already under stress today,” said Andrea Marongiu, managing director of the Baden-Württemberg forwarding and logistics association, the “SWR”. “ The smallest part is really enough – if the smallest part is missing, we cannot build the whole. A lot comes from the Czech Republic too. ”
Germany imports goods worth 55 billion euros per year from the neighboring country; The automotive industry has around ten percent of this, says Marongiu: “When some automobile manufacturers say they are not affected, then I am very surprised that the entire chain has been illuminated so quickly.”
Clemens Fuest, President of the Munich Ifo Institute, calls for uniform standards for infection protection in order to avoid border closings. “From my point of view, we finally have to use intelligent mobility concepts to ensure that value chains function without being contagion chains. To do this, significantly more has to be tested, partly through rapid tests, ”Fuest told SPIEGEL.
However, there is currently nothing to be seen at the border crossings of cross-border standards or even intelligent mobility concepts. The federal government had promised improvement after the mess during the first wave.
But that is exactly what is happening again. And Thomas Schwarz’s trucks are stuck in traffic again. “I’ve never seen such delays as in the past twelve months,” says the freight forwarder. “It annoys us that there is no European solution. Every state does its own thing. ”
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Corona border controls Czech Republic Tyrol Forwarders appalled