Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Poland have requested the European Union continue with a Temporary Ban on Ukrainian Grain until the beginning of 2024 in order to Protect the Local Farmers in these Countries who believe the Cheaper Ukrainian Grain will be used to Undercut their Prices
Even if Brussels had insisted the measures would be phased out for good by 15 September.
Under the bans, wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed coming from Ukraine can transit through the five Eastern European countries but not stay inside their markets for domestic consumption or storage purposes.
The Eastern coalition says this list of targeted products should “remain open” and possibly cover goods “other than cereals and oilseeds,” something that the European Commission had previously ruled out.
“In the event that the preventive measure is not extended, this will have a profound impact in the frontline member states on the prices and the storage capacity, which is essential for the grain to be harvested,” the countries wrote in a common document.
The idea was discussed on Tuesday during a meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Brussels, where diverging views came forth.
“Imports from Ukraine have caused a drop in grain and oilseed prices, thus bringing large losses to Romanian farmers who find themselves in the very difficult situation of selling their products at prices lower than production costs,” said Florin-Ionuț Barbu, Romania’s minister for agriculture and rural development.
“Unfortunately, the support granted continues to be low when compared to the losses incurred by producers and only partially solves the difficult situation.”
His French counterpart, Marc Fesneau, warned against “going it alone” and underlined the need to act collectively to find “intelligent solutions” based on economic data. France is among the countries that have expressed displeasure over the only-transit prohibitions and their impact on the single market.
“We’re revisiting the issue every three months. Personally, I would like the Commission to adopt a strategy that is more medium-term,” Fesneau said ahead of the meeting in Brussels. “We can’t just go along with crises as they arise.”
Meanwhile, Lithuania unveiled its own proposal: a plan to reinforce the Baltic route by simplifying administrative procedures at the Polish-Ukrainian border and clearing customs directly at the Klaipėda port to save time and increase cargo capacity.
“The Baltic infrastructure may become a viable and reliable transit route for Ukrainian products. The Baltic seaports have a large handling capacity of agricultural products totalling 25 million tons per year for grain alone,” the Lithuanian government said in a letter addressed to the European Commission.
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for agriculture, expressed support for the Lithuanian pitch and said it would require extra funding to make it work. On the issue of Ukrainian grain, Wojciechowski said the executive would come up with a market analysis before mid-September, with a possibility to examine poultry and fruits, two products that Poland is worried about.
“There are different positions but there’s a good understanding of how serious is the situation,” Wojciechowski said.