With protesting farmers putting on the pressure, EU lowers limits on Ukrainian agricultural imports

The lower limits will allow EU farmers some breathing room when it comes to agricultural imports from Ukraine, but they’re still far higher than before the war

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: forsal.pl

The EU has decided to use the period from June 2022 to June 2023 — rather than all of 2023, as had been planned — to work out the baseline limits for Ukrainian agricultural products. The new baseline will offer a slight measure of relief for European farmers from cheaper Ukrainian imports.

The European Commission has been mulling the new regulations with regard to the trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine, a matter of great importance to Polish farmers who have been affected by the inflow of Ukrainian agricultural produce onto the Polish and EU markets.

After the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the EU decided to open up its markets to Ukrainian products, leading to a large influx of grain, meat, sugar, milk and soft fruit, which undercut prices in Polish and other markets. Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian, French and German farmers are up in arms over these cheap imports and have been protesting by blocking roads all over the EU. 

This served as the backdrop to the deliberations on the shape of the trade agreement with Ukraine. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wanted the limits to be generous and based on 2023 when Ukrainian produce flowed into the EU, but a compromise has been worked out by which only half of that year will be included in the baseline reference for setting fresh limits. 

Farmers were strongly opposed to using the entire year of 2023 as a baseline reference figure, as was the European commissioner for agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski. Polish Agriculture Minister Czesław Siekierski also lobbied for stiffer limits. 

According to reports in the Dziennika Gazeta Prawna paper, Ursula von der Leyen has reluctantly bowed to pressure coming from farmers and her own officials and has agreed to lower the amount Ukraine will be able to export, as the new reference baseline period chosen — June 2022 to June 2023 — is less favorable for Ukraine. 

Although the limits for eggs, poultry, meat and sugar are all lower, they will still be considerably more generous than they were before the war when Ukraine was only allowed to sell 6,000 tons of eggs (now 29,600 tons) 20,000 tons of sugar (now 396,000) and 90,000 tons of poultry meat (now 165,000). 

The final announcement on the limits, which will be obligatory from June, is expected midweek. 

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