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Poland and 4 different EU member states requested Brussels on Wednesday to increase commerce curbs on Ukrainian grain amid issues that Russia’s blockage of Black Sea shipments may put additional stress on their home markets.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania have restricted imports of Ukrainian grain since final spring in response to protests by their farmers a few grain glut that despatched cereal costs crashing and which they blamed on Ukrainian imports.
In Might, Brussels persuaded them to drop unilateral measures, which violated EU commerce legislation, by agreeing that Ukrainian shipments would solely transit by way of the 5 international locations on path to different locations. The EU additionally handed out €100mn to the affected international locations.
Ukrainian grain has provoked an embarrassing U-turn for Poland, one of many staunchest western supporters of Kyiv’s struggle towards Russia. Poland has led requires solidarity with Ukraine and final 12 months Warsaw backed the EU eradicating tariffs on Ukrainian foodstuffs to assist its economic system.
However forward of a fiercely contested nationwide election this autumn, the rightwing authorities in Warsaw has grown nervous about shedding the help of farmers who’re a cornerstone of its voters.
The demand for an extension of controls past mid-September is more likely to meet robust resistance. A number of member states whose personal industries have suffered from sanctions on Russia are irritated that Poland and others are searching for particular therapy.
“The preliminary illicit grain blockade was just like the camel’s head beneath the tent. By giving in to the calls for of those international locations, it’s now turn into excessively exhausting for the fee to counter the additional escalation of those points by Poland,” stated one diplomat.
However Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned Brussels towards stopping what was agreed by the 5 international locations on Wednesday.
“Both the European Fee will conform to develop widespread rules that can prolong this ban, or we’ll do it ourselves,” Morawiecki instructed a information convention in Warsaw. “We might be powerful, decided and we will definitely defend the Polish farmers.”
Russia’s resolution this week to finish its Black Sea grain deal places additional stress on Ukraine to search out different methods to export its enormous cereals output. The EU and the US have condemned Russia’s exit from the deal as a harmful resolution that threatens world meals safety, notably in poorer international locations within the southern hemisphere.
Poland and the opposite EU international locations near Ukraine say that Brussels has failed to ensure that Ukrainian meals exports could be despatched to Africa and the Center East reasonably than flooding home markets.
Since Might, Polish farmers have continued to name on their authorities to increase restrictions to strawberries and different seasonal foodstuffs which might be grown extra cheaply in Ukraine and have additionally decreased costs within the EU.
The 5 international locations additionally say the EU must be extra versatile to permit particular person member states so as to add gadgets to the checklist of banned Ukrainian exports. They may increase their issues at a gathering of agricultural ministers in Brussels on Tuesday and wish an extension of their present cereal restrictions till the top of this 12 months.
An EU official stated the border states nonetheless had “vital shares” of Ukraine grain however the “solidarity lane” scheme launched in Might was “easing the scenario”.
A number of different international locations instructed a gathering of member states final week that Ukrainian imports had been “placing stress” on their farmers, the official stated. There have been vital imports of poultry and eggs, decreasing costs.
A European Fee spokesperson stated it was “working intensively with the 5 frontline member states, Ukraine and Moldova to unravel logistical issues and enhance the capability of the solidarity lanes”.