EU extends targeted wheat import bans until mid-September

2023-06-06 07:53:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

EU extends targeted wheat import bans until mid-September

The bans apply to the import of Ukrainian grain through Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The European Commission decided on Monday evening to extend until September 15 a series of emergency bans on duty-free imports of Ukrainian grain, the influx of which has been credited with depressing prices in Eastern Europe and fueling anger among local farmers.

The bans are targeted and apply only to the circulation of wheat, corn, meat and sunflower seeds coming to five countries on the outskirts of Ukraine: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The extension was approved despite objections voiced by authorities in Kiev, including President Volodymr Zelenskyy himself, and "serious concerns" raised by Germany, France and 10 other member states in a joint letter.

"These measures continue to be necessary for a limited period of time given the exceptional circumstances of serious logistical bottlenecks and limited storage capacity for pre-harvest wheat experienced in five Member States," the European Commission said in a statement. .

The bans stem from an agreement reached between the European Commission and five Eastern European countries, which had complained about mounting economic losses caused by a glut of wheat.

As part of its aid to Ukraine, the European Union suspended all duties and tariffs on imports of products, such as vegetables, fruit and meat, covered by the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

The debate gained momentum in April, when four of the five countries concerned imposed unilateral measures on a wide range of Ukrainian food products, going beyond wheat and corn.

The dispute caught Brussels by surprise and raised questions about how long the bloc's political solidarity with the war-torn nation would last.

After behind-the-scenes negotiations, the European Commission reached an agreement with the five countries on the condition of releasing a 100 million euro support package for farmers in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The agreement introduced "extraordinary and temporary preventive measures" for four Ukrainian products – wheat, corn, sunflower seeds.

In practice, "preventive measures" constitute a legalized ban, designed to replace unilateral restrictions with a coordinated approach.

However, Hungary has not completely lifted its national bans.

Under the initial agreement, the bans were scheduled to last until June 5, which coincides with the one-year extension of the tariff-free system for Ukraine.

In the days leading up to the deadline, the European Commission gave vague answers about the future of "preventive measures" and insisted that its decision would be based on economic data from the ground.

Ukraina i ka denoncuar publikisht ndalesat, duke i quajtur ato "absolutisht të papranueshme" dhe ka lobuar zyrtarët e BE-së për t'i hequr ato.

Më vete, një grup prej 12 vendesh, duke përfshirë Gjermaninë dhe Francën, dërguan muajin e kaluar një letër të përbashkët në të cilën ata ngritën "shqetësime serioze" në lidhje me marrëveshjen e grurit, papajtueshmërinë e mundshme me rregullat tregtare të BE-së dhe mungesën e transparencës.

Kundërshtimet nuk e penguan Brukselin nga zgjatja e ndalimeve, një vendim i shpallur vetëm katër orë përpara afatit.

Në deklaratën e tij, Komisioni Evropian tha se kufizimet do të hiqen gradualisht deri më 15 shtator, por mund të rivlerësohen përpara kësaj, nëse qarkullimi i drithërave ukrainas "pengohet nga kërkesat e tepërta të rënda" në një nga pesë vendet e Evropës Lindore.

Given the political explosiveness of the issue, the executive has created a coordination platform that brings together representatives from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Ukraine, to monitor market trends on a regular basis.

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