Brussels’ decision to lift the veto on the import of Ukrainian grain has brought a confrontation between Ukraine and four other countries of the bloc, including Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.
The origin of the controversy so far has been the inconvenience caused by the increase in Ukrainian grain flows to the EU, which led to serious storage problems that threatened domestic crops in countries bordering Ukraine. For this reason, the Commission introduced a temporary veto for Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, which was lifted last Friday after the Union found that market distortions had disappeared in these five countries bordering Ukraine.
In order to avoid difficulties in the process, Kiev accepted the possibility of introducing legal instruments such as the export licensing system. Despite the Union’s lifting of the veto, these four countries threatened to introduce their own restrictions on wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds of Ukrainian origin in order to protect their farmers from increased imports, and in some of them such restrictions are even being imposed on them.
“Poland will not allow us to be flooded with Ukrainian grain,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who argued that his country’s interests came “above all.” Agriculture Minister Robert Telus made the same point, although he clarified his words. “We will support the transit of Ukrainian grain to countries where there are shortages, but we don’t want it to go to Poland.”
Tensions over this issue have reached such a level that Poland would consider vetoing Ukraine’s EU accession if the issue is not resolved in its favor. Currently, Ukraine is on the list of countries with candidate country status for joining the Club of 27, alongside other states such as Moldova, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Its possible entry before the 27 give their final yes, depends on compliance with a series of reforms requested by Brussels.
Days ago they also defended from Hungary the need to protect their farmers. We will defend the interests of Hungarian farmers under all circumstances and with all means,” said Hungarian Agriculture Minister István Nagyde. From Brussels, the Commission’s economic vice-president and head of trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, called for cooperation. “At this time it is important that all countries work together constructively and willing to compromise.”
Ukraine is considering taking the four countries to court at the WTO
Given this situation, Ukraine is considering filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Prime Minister Denis Shmygal spoke of turning to the body to “obtain compensation for violation of the rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.”
He also defended that the Ukrainian country “limits itself to fulfilling its duty” and that “it has no intention of harming Polish farmers,” warning that ahead of the elections there will be a “violation of trade law in the interests of of political populism “could come” in the Polish countryside.