Central and Eastern European countries, led by Poland, are pushing to extend
the ban on Ukrainian grain imports until year's end. European Commissioner for
Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, further stirs the pot by backing the
extension and suggesting a subsidy solution. Amid political tensions and the
looming September 15 phase-out deadline, Ukraine warns of violations to its EU
Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia have jointly expressed their desire to extend the ban on importing Ukrainian grain into their countries until the end of the year, according to Polish agriculture minister Robert Telus. The initial ban, set to conclude on September 15, prohibited domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds in these five countries, although transit of these goods for export elsewhere remained permitted.
In a related development, Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and himself a Polish citizen, voiced his opinion on the matter, advocating for the extension of the ban until year's end. During a European Parliament hearing, he noted the adverse impact on the EU market due to these restrictions. He observed that the bulk of Ukrainian grain imports ended up in other EU countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy, rather than reaching non-EU nations where transit costs make shipments uneconomical.
Wojciechowski proposed a solution of subsidies, ranging from €20 to €30 per ton of grain, to assist Ukrainian companies in transporting their cargo to EU ports for global sales. The initiative, expected to cost €600 million from the EU budget, aims to facilitate the shipping of 20 million tons until year-end. However, this proposal is Wojciechowski's personal stance, and a European Commission spokesperson was quick to emphasize that the official position remains to phase out the bans by September 15.
This debate has deep political implications. In Poland, for instance, this issue is pivotal ahead of the upcoming general elections, given its importance to the rural electorate. For Ukraine, the conversation around extending the ban has stirred strong reactions, with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign affairs minister, warning against actions that would breach the Ukraine-EU association agreement.