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EU comments on Poland and Hungary’s Ukrainian import ban

Any trade policy decisions within the bloc are an “exclusive competence” of Brussels, the EU Commission said

Brussels has slammed a decision by Poland and Hungary to ban agricultural imports from Ukraine. Such actions are “unacceptable” and go against the bloc’s rules, a spokesperson for the EU Commission said in an emailed statement to the media on Sunday.

Poland was the first to impose temporary restrictions on grain and oilseeds as well as some other agricultural products from Ukraine on Saturday. Hungary followed suit on Sunday. Both nations cited the uncontrolled inflow of cheap produce from Ukraine resulting from the “full duty-free and free trade opportunities” granted by the EU to Kiev.

The measures introduced by the EU in an effort to aid Kiev in its ongoing conflict with Moscow have led to the “destabilization” of agricultural markets in Poland and Hungary, Warsaw and Budapest said, arguing that they now need to protect their own farmers’ interests.

“We are aware of Poland and Hungary’s announcements regarding the ban on imports of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine,” an EU Commission spokesperson said on Sunday, adding that “it is important to underline that trade policy is of EU exclusive competence and, therefore, unilateral actions are not acceptable.”

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Protesting farmers watch a train that carries Ukrainian grain at the broad-gauge railway line crossing in Hrubieszow, Poland on April 12, 2023.
Ukraine accuses Poland of violating deal

The statement also said it was “crucial to coordinate and align all decisions within the EU,” particularly in “such challenging times.” The statement did not clarify whether Warsaw and Budapest might face sanctions from Brussels over their decision.

The EU initially touted its initiative as a way to help its exports reach poorer nations in the Middle East and Africa. However, much of the produce has ended up in Eastern Europe, sending local prices plummeting.

Last month, the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia demanded action from the EU Commission on Ukrainian agricultural imports, calling for the reintroduction of tariffs.

Bulgaria’s Agriculture Minister Yavor Gechev said on Sunday that his nation was also considering a ban on Ukrainian imports, the nation’s BTA news agency reported. Warsaw has, meanwhile, banned both the import and transit of Ukrainian products through its territory, Poland’s development and technology minister, Waldemar Buda, said on Twitter on Sunday.

According to Ukraine’s Ukriform news agency, the nation’s agriculture minister, Nikolay Solsky, was to meet his Polish counterpart, Robert Telus, on Monday to particularly discuss the transit issues. Earlier, Kiev accused Warsaw of breaking a deal the two neighbors reached a week ago.

April 17, 2023 at 03:29AM

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