The European Union lifts import restrictions on Ukrainian cereals.

Un champ de blé près de Nikolske, dans la région de Donetsk (Ukraine), le 19 juillet 2023.

Elle aura attendu jusqu’au dernier moment pour annoncer sa décision. Vendredi 15 septembre, la Commission européenne a décidé de supprimer tout blocage des importations de céréales d’Ukraine vers l’ensemble des Vingt-Sept à partir de samedi.

The institution responsible for the European Union’s trade policy decided to prohibit the export of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds to five neighboring countries: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. These countries claimed that these exports were destabilizing their domestic market and reducing their farmers’ income. As a result, they unilaterally banned the entry of Ukrainian cereals into their territory starting from mid-April.

In light of this unprecedented situation, the Commission eventually provided support to these five countries through a substantial financial aid of several tens of millions of euros, accompanied by a limited embargo applicable only to these five member states.

If Sofia had announced on Thursday her intention to lift all restrictions, the other countries were not on the same page. On Friday, even before the decision was announced, Hungarian Viktor Orban had declared that he would continue the embargo. In the evening, a few minutes after the Commission’s statement, Poland and Slovakia did the same, openly defying Brussels.

“I cannot reword”

Rassurer les pays limitrophes de l’Ukraine

Both countries are particularly sensitive to these issues as they are in the midst of an election campaign. However, in Poland, the ruling party’s electoral base, PiS (Law and Justice), is strong in agricultural regions. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, stated on X (formerly Twitter) that “as long as PiS reigns, we will protect the Polish countryside from any threat. Unlike our predecessors, we do not hesitate to tell Brussels: STOP.”

For the European Commission, the reaction of the three countries is more than problematic. “We could not perpetuate exceptional safeguard measures, which by nature must be limited in time,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, the Vice-President of the European Commission, present in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) for a meeting of EU finance ministers. Especially since there is no longer any distortion of national cereal markets.

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