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Agriculture: the 27 divided on the restrictions to be imposed on Ukraine

The Twenty-Seven examine on Wednesday the project to cap certain agricultural imports from Ukraine, judged to be insufficient by some of the States, including France, which wish to extend these restrictions to wheat. –a demand from agricultural organizations.

The file will be discussed at a meeting of the ambassadors of the member states. “There is no agreement” on the inclusion of wheat, admitted Tuesday the Belgian Minister of Agriculture David Clarinval, on the sidelines of a meeting with his European counterparts.

“We are enough countries to have a blocking minority, to ask for the evolution” of the text, warned French Minister Marc Fesneau.

This is a reason for agricultural anger: the EU has granted Kiev an exemption from customs duties since 2022 to support the country in the face of the Russian invasion. European farmers accuse the influx of Ukrainian products of lowering local prices and of “unfair” competition, failing to meet the same standards.

Negotiators of the States and MEPs agreed on March 20 to renew the customs exemption for one year, from June, but by capping imports of poultry, eggs, sugar, corn and oats at the volumes imported in 2022-2023, above on which tariffs would be reimposed.

This mechanism does not include soft wheat and barley, as demanded by MEPs and agricultural organizations but also by several States — France and Poland in the lead.

“We have a destabilization of the cereal markets”, due to “the Russian strategy of preventing Ukraine from going to its traditional markets” in Africa and the Middle East, argues Marc Fesneau.

“The maritime routes via the Black Sea are working again, Ukrainian products will find their markets”, adds his Hungarian counterpart Istvan Nagy. “Without the inclusion of wheat, (the agreement) is unacceptable” for Budapest, he warns.

Paris also defends the extension to 2021 of the period of capping reference, arguing that 2022-2023 volumes correspond to already massive imports.


The agreement concluded last week must be formally validated by the European Parliament, during a plenary vote in April, and by the States by qualified majority (15 countries representing 65% of the EU population). Any amendment must be approved by both sides.

“Our proposals are balanced, I am hopeful that we will find common ground”, believes Marc Fesneau, keen to avoid agricultural imbalances which would erode “public support” for Ukraine.

Conversely, Berlin says it is hostile to any revision. “A compromise has been negotiated, we must stick to it!”, said German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir.

“Many don't understand that the defense of Ukraine, and therefore the defense of us all, consists not only of providing ammunition, but also of not repeating Russian propaganda according to which the problematic drop in grain prices is due to Ukrainian deliveries. 'There's no proof of that!', he got annoyed.

Kiev doesn't hide its incomprehension.

Agriculture: the 27 divided on the restrictions to be imposed on Ukraine

Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture and Food Mykola Solsky, during an interview with AFP, March 25, 2024 in Brussels © AFP – Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD

“We are disappointed. Ukraine has filled a sugar deficit in the EU”, preventing prices from soaring too high, and “supplies about 1% of its total egg consumption , 2% of its poultry consumption: what Ukrainian refugees could easily consume,” Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky told AFP.

European restrictions will hardly influence wheat prices “fixed in Chicago”, weighed down by abundant Brazilian, Argentinian and American harvests, he added .

According to Brussels, a capping which, in addition to the initial text, would include wheat and barley, with a reference period extended to 2021, would reduce the total by around 1, 2 billion euros Ukrainian exports to the EU compared to 2023.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116