The EU farming sector will face “a significant labour shortage” in the coming weeks if seasonal workers are not able to reach their workplace due to restrictive COVID-19 measures, the European Commission has warned.

Seasonal workers are critical to the agricultural sector in terms of harvesting, planting and tending functions, especially in the current season.

Last week, the Commission published guidance which said member states are requested to designate all the relevant internal border-crossing points on the trans-European transport network as ‘green lane' border crossings for goods and freight movement.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean said: “The EU's transport network connects the whole of the EU. 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.”

The Commission has said that the food sector is a key sector included in these guidelines, especially regarding seasonal workers.

Unparalleled crisis

Through these guidelines, the Commission is urging member states to establish specific burden-free and fast procedures to ensure a smooth passage for frontier and seasonal workers, including proportionate health screening.

“Regarding seasonal workers in the agricultural sector, member states should exchange information on their different needs at technical level and establish specific procedures to ensure a smooth passage for such workers.

“In addition, member states should treat those persons as critical workers and communicate to the employers the necessity to provide for adequate health and safety protection,” it said.

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