EU minister calls for extension of Ukraine grain ban

08 June 20232 min reading
Despite strong opposition from Kyiv, the European Union’s agriculture chief has stressed the need to extend restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine until at least the end of October.

The restrictions, which have divided EU member states, were imposed in response to complaints from eastern EU countries. They argued that a glut of Ukrainian grain was driving down local prices and harming local farmers. An agreement was eventually reached with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, allowing them to block grain imports from Ukraine.

At a press conference in May, Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, said the ban would have to be extended until the end of the year, or at least until the end of October. “The problem... is that there is more grain in the warehouses of the frontline [countries] than in Ukraine, and that is the reason why we should extend this temporary import ban to improve the situation in the frontline countries,” he stated. Wojciechowski clarified that the European Commission had not yet adopted its official position on the matter, but expressed hope that he had convinced the remaining member states of the fairness of the extension.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky strongly condemned the export restrictions, describing them as “totally unacceptable” for his war-torn country. The restrictions were also opposed by 12 EU countries, including France and Germany, which expressed concern about the lack of transparency and warned that they could undermine the integrity of the European single market.

Ukraine warned that bans on its grain exports imposed by some EU countries were playing into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin and could divide Europe. Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said on Twitter that the current restrictions, which were originally due to end on 5 June, should be lifted: “Continuing the restrictions means giving Putin additional weapons against the unity of Europe. The current restrictions must be canceled”.
Following Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine’s traditional grain export channel across the Black Sea was severely restricted, forcing it to resort to overland export routes through neighboring countries. EU member states agreed to allow certain products from Ukraine to be imported without quantitative restrictions, customs, or official controls. However, farmers in some EU countries protested against falling prices, leading to a series of restrictions and bans on Ukrainian food exports.
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