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EU agrees on tougher restrictions on agricultural imports from Ukraine

Photo: Daniel Mihailescu Agence France-Presse A truck transports corn near grain silos on platform 80 at the port of Constanța, Romania, May 3, 2022.

Julien Girault – Agence France-Presse in Brussels

4:23 p.m.

  • Europe

EU states and MEPs agreed on Monday to renew the exemption from customs duties on agricultural imports from Ukraine, combining it with reinforced restrictions but without capping wheat .

The agreement, which was formally approved in the evening by the ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven, renews for one year, until June 2025, this tariff exemption granted to the country at war.< /p>

Adopted in 2022 to support kyiv in the face of the Russian invasion, it fuels the anger of EU farmers, who accuse the influx of Ukrainian products of lowering local prices and of “unfair” competition for lack of respect the same standards.

To respond to these concerns, the text, which will still have to be validated by MEPs and a final time by the ministers of the Twenty-Seven, provides for strict supervision.

Brussels will now be able to adopt “rapid” corrective measures in the event of “significant disruptions” on the market, even if this only affects a single country, with increased monitoring of cereal flows.

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Importantly, an “emergency brake” is introduced: duty-free imports of poultry, eggs, sugar, corn, honey, oats and groats (degermed grain preparation) will be capped at the volumes means imported between mid-2021 and the end of 2023, levels above which tariffs will be automatically reimposed.

“By extending support [in terms of customs duties] for another year, this agreement demonstrates the EU's continued solidarity”, while “strengthening safeguards to protect EU farmers in the event of market disruption” under the effect of “the repercussions of Russia's incessant attacks on Ukraine”, observed Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete (EPP, right), rapporteur of the text.

However, France demanded the extension to the entire year 2021 of the reference period for calculating the capping volumes, arguing that the 2022-2023 volumes initially proposed by Brussels correspond to already massive imports.

By finally including the second half of 2021, a period when imports from Ukraine were much less significant, the calculation will already lead de facto to significantly lowering the level at which the cap will be triggered.

Soft wheat not included

On the other hand, the capping mechanism still does not include soft wheat and barley, as several countries – France, Poland, Hungary – wanted in unison with agricultural organizations.

The adopted text ultimately only contains a commitment from the European Commission to strengthen its monitoring of trade in cereals, particularly wheat, to activate emergency measures if necessary in the event of an imbalance.

The agreement also provides that Brussels will study “permanent” tariff liberalization with Ukraine as part of the future renegotiation of the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine.

This prospect greatly alarms EU agricultural organizations.

The agreement reached on Monday essentially repeats the text already approved at the end of March by the Twenty-Seven, which toughened a compromise previously found with the MEPs.

However, Copa-Cogeca (organization of the majority unions) and five sectoral federations had denounced a “half-response” to their concerns, due to the lack of inclusion of wheat and barley in the mechanism capping and reference volumes including the entire year 2021.

As it stands, this text “will only grant very limited relief to our producers” and “the situation will remain unsustainable for farmers”, they warned in a joint press release.< /p>

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