Polish farmers protest against EU policies and imports from Ukraine

2024-02-27 15:54:56, Kosova & Bota CNA

Polish farmers protest against EU policies and imports from Ukraine

Thousands of Polish farmers marched on the streets of Warsaw on Tuesday, escalating a protest that began in early February against food imports from Ukraine and the European Union's green rules.

On the streets of the Polish capital, protesters held the national flag and blew horns.

Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks against restrictions placed on them by the EU's "Green Deal" rules aimed at tackling climate change, as well as rising costs and what they say are it is unfair competition from outside the EU, especially Ukraine.

Polish farmers gathered in the center of Warsaw, before marching towards the Parliament, and then the prime minister's office - about 3 kilometers away.

"We are protesting because we want the 'Green Deal' to go away, as it, with its costs, will drive our farms into bankruptcy," said Kamil Wojciechowski, a farmer from Izbica Kujawska in central Poland.

"And... what we are paid for our work has decreased because of the flow of grain from Ukraine, and this is our second demand - to block the flow of grain from Ukraine," he said.

Polish farmers began a series of protests across the country earlier this month, which included a near-total blockade of all Ukrainian border crossings, as well as disruptions to ports and roads across the country.

"We will not give up. We have no choice. Our farms will go bankrupt, we will lose our livelihood," said Pawel Walkowiak, a wheat farmer from Konarzewo in western Poland.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said during a visit to Prague on Tuesday that the EU must resolve problems created by its decision to open its borders to imports of Ukrainian food products after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February. of 2022.

"No one has the right to think that the Czech Republic and Poland do not support Ukraine, but... we will work together in Brussels on corrections that will protect our market from the negative effects of this decision," Tusk said.

The EU has given Ukraine access to its markets without any tariffs, after Moscow launched its war on Ukrainian soil.

Some Polish producers have bought cheap Ukrainian wheat, but the lack of infrastructure at the ports has meant that the wheat has remained in Poland and has not been exported to third countries.

As a result, Poland has faced record levels of wheat left on its land last year.

In May, the European Commission made a decision to ban Ukrainian wheat in five neighboring countries, although the decision did not apply to transit.

When the ban was lifted in September, Poland unilaterally imposed a ban on four types of wheat, as well as flour and animal feed.

Poland's new, pro-European government supports farmers' demands and has called on Brussels to reach a compromise on imports with Ukraine.

In January, the EU said it would introduce a "safeguard mechanism" that would allow the European bloc to impose emergency tariffs on Ukraine if a large amount of imports threatens to destabilize markets./ REL

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