17 Apr 2023 18:39

EC working on package of proposals to resolve the problem of Ukrainian farm produce deliveries

BRUSSELS. April 17 (Interfax) - The European Commission is awaiting detailed information from Poland and Hungary on the reasons for banning imports of Ukrainian agricultural products and is drafting a new package of proposals aimed at supporting Ukraine and its bordering EU member states.

"We are in contact with the relevant member states," as well as the Ukrainian authorities, in order to find out properly about the measures taken and the legal grounds for them, and to have a clear idea on this issue, European Commission agriculture spokesperson Miriam Garcia Ferrer said in Brussels on Monday. "It's important to remind [member states] that trade policies are an exclusive competence, which means that at European Union level such decisions can be taken. And that's why we have been saying that unilateral action is not possible under EU trade policy," Ferrer said.

Ferrer said the European Commission had received a letter from five EU countries bordering Ukraine, in which they ask to consider the problem with the supply of Ukrainian agricultural products. The EC is analyzing this and needs to understand the reasons why these countries have imposed an import ban in order to be able to give a more specific answer. At this stage, it is too early to talk about this, since these measures were announced this weekend, and not all the details regarding the measures taken have yet been received, she said.

She said the EC had offered compensation of 56 million euros. "In the first package, we proposed to support the EU countries that have felt the consequences the most - these are Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. We know that there are other countries, and we discussed this issue within the [European] Council and said we would consider the situation that has arisen. Now we are working on the second package of measures, in which we will continue to support countries that have felt the consequences [of the increase in supply of Ukrainian farm produce]," she said.

The first package contains 56 million euros from the reserve for agriculture. "This is the reserve that we have for emergencies. We are now working on a second package, and right now we cannot give details. It is important to note that we are taking the consequences of increased imports to these countries into account," Ferrer said.

She could not when specifically the EC would be able to offer the second aid package to the affected states. "We hope that we'll be able to do it very quickly, in the next few days. Then these proposals have to be approved by member states. But don't forget that the first package was proposed on March 20 and adopted by member states on March 30. It was very fast, and we expect the same for the second package," Ferrer said.

Eric Mamer, European Commission Chief Spokesperson, said there was no question of sanctions against Poland or Hungary. "EU member states, including Poland, and all states bordering Ukraine, are doing all they can to help Ukraine. And this is welcome. It is not our aim or anyone's aim to create difficulties for the population in the EU at a time when we are supporting Ukraine. So we are not talking about sanctions [against Poland and Hungary], but about finding a solution based on EU legislation," he said.

Earlier it was reported that three EU countries - Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - are banning the import of Ukrainian grain to protect their farmers. Bulgaria may follow suit. The European Commission said independent decisions of individual countries, such as Poland and Hungary, regarding restrictions on imports of agricultural products from Ukraine were unacceptable.

Poland has banned the import of not only grain, but of any agricultural products from Ukraine until June 30, 2023.

On April 14, the ministers of the Visegrad Four countries Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, held online negotiations on the situation with regard to Ukrainian grain. According to their results, Slovak Minister Samuel Vlcan said that at the Agrifish Council, which brings together agrarian and fisheries ministers of the European Union, he plans to present the use of an EU tool through which Ukrainian grain would be purchased in cooperation with the UN World Food Program. This will help Ukraine in a difficult situation and at the same time protect the EU market from the dumping of goods from Ukraine, he said.

The Associated Press has said the European Union's decision to exempt agricultural products from Ukraine from duties led to a glut on local markets and lower prices. This is causing discontent among European farmers.

Ukrainian grains and oilseeds enter and remain in unprecedented quantities in EU member states bordering Ukraine. In addition, the Ukrainian agro-industrial complex has begun to export a large amount of poultry meat, eggs and honey to Europe, the Hungarian Agriculture Ministry said.