The influx of refugees coming into Europe has put a huge strain on countries and businesses. Especially, since an attempt to increase security after terrorist attacks many countries have decided to close their borders and have temporarily introduced border controls. The removal of internal borders during the making of the Schengen Area allowed for free movement of goods and people within Europe. However, the partial suspension has caused backups of trucks and increased waiting times at border control, limiting the free flow of goods and consequently affecting the transport and logistics industry.
The short delays at the border control have caused an increase in transport costs. The most important thing for the businesses is to keep the goods moving, as it is cheaper for the manufacturers.
The biggest disruption occurred at the Channel Tunnel between France and the UK. According to the EU transport commission, 160,000 trucks were affected in 2015 as result of the refugee crisis. Transportation of cargo by road has become more volatile particularly for time critical foods. UK-based Priority Freight saw an increase of 300% in airfreight bookings in 2015, partially due to the situation that occurred in Calais, where refugees boarded trucks, broke locks and slashed truck roofs.
Drivers are choosing to avoid Calais port because of the risk of stowaways. In the UK, transportation companies that are found to have been infiltrated by a stowaway is fined up to $2,000 per stowaway, and the shipment is consequently confiscated or destroyed. Calais port is a very important point for shipments that are entering the UK- approximately 75% of all road freight going in and out of Britain passes through Calais and Dover. The refugee crisis is costing an estimated of $200,000, $545,000, and $1.2 million a day for Belgian, Dutch and UK shippers.
The logistical delays and shortages have also affected the delivery of aid to refugees.
Logistics service providers have provided solutions to deal with the situation; however, keeping goods moving and production going does involve added work and costs. Interruptions to the supply chain lead to shortages and drive the prices of imported goods. To ease the situation there needs to be a long-term solution to the humanitarian crisis.