Commission: temporary restrictions on Ukrainian products due to logistical bottlenecks
The EU Commission decided to temporarily restrict the import of four Ukrainian agricultural products in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. The restrictions concern wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed, and they aim to “alleviate logistical bottlenecks experienced in these five Member States”.
The Commission will keep those restrictions in place between 2 May and 5 June. The institution underlined that those products will be able to circulate in the rest of EU Member States, while the restrictions will not affect their transit via the five countries in question. However, it did not exclude the possibility of extending those restrictions after 5 June if the situation in the five countries does not improve.
The restrictions that the Commission imposed constitute an attempt to find common ground between the export needs of Ukraine and the farming sectors of the five Member States that are under pressure. For the record, a couple of weeks ago, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary banned the import of some Ukrainian agricultural products. The three countries took this initiative after lamenting the lack of solid EU regulations to protect their farmers.
The situation resulted from the EU’s supportive measures targeting the Ukrainian agricultural sector. On 19 May 2022, the European Parliament voted to suspend EU duties on all Ukrainian exports. The measure was initially implemented on import duties on industrial products, entry duties on fruit and vegetables, and anti-dumping duties and safeguard measures on steel imports for one year. Later, on 4 June 2022, the duty-free regime was implemented on all Ukrainian exports, including agricultural products, with a validity period until 5 June 2023, which will most probably be extended again.
According to Poland and the rest of the countries advocating a ban on Ukrainian imports, the liberalised customs regime caused problems in their agricultural sectors since there was no place in the market for domestic produce. The EU resolved the issue a few days by agreeing with Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia for a financial support package of 100 million euros to alleviate the farmers who experience significant losses.
The five Member States also agreed to lift their unilateral restrictions on Ukrainian products. However, it seems they need a transitional period until they reopen their economies to Ukrainian products; hence, the Commission’s temporary measures assist them in this process.