by our correspondent Beda Romano
The Commission has reached an agreement with five member countries that in violation of Community rules had imposed bans on the import of Ukrainian wheat into the European Union
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STOCKHOLM – After ten days of tension, on the evening of Friday 28 April the European Commission found an agreement in principle with five member countries which, in violation of EU rules, had imposed unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian wheat into the European Union. On this occasion, Brussels is evaluating the possibility of buying stationary wheat in Poland and other member states with Community money in order to export it to third countries.
Speaking here in Stockholm, where a meeting of EU finance ministers is taking place, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis he explained that “safeguard measures” will be applied. She declined to give more details. The affair broke out when five member countries wrote a letter to the EU executive, concerned by the impact that Ukrainian wheat has on national prices.
Instead of continuing on to other countries, the grains from Ukraine remained in the warehouses of the Polandfrom the Bulgariafrom the Romaniadell’Hungary and of Slovakia, causing a sharp drop in prices on national markets which penalized local producers. The five countries have introduced unilateral measures to block access to grain, violating European rules. Trade is the exclusive competence of the European Union.
Since last year, the Twenty-seven had decided to abolish the tariffs on Ukrainian cereals to facilitate their export to the European Union. Emergency measures were foreseen in the provision, which will now be used by Brussels. In essence, it is a matter of putting a ban on the import of four Ukrainian products: wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds. Cereals will be able to enter the five Eastern European countries, but will then have to continue on to other European and non-European markets. At the same time, the five countries will have to abolish the unilateral measures. The package, which also includes economic aid to member states, is currently being approved at European level, even if it has aroused cold reactions from Ukraine.
“The agreement gives the Kremlin dangerous hope, the hope that in our common European home someone’s wrong decisions can prevail over common interests,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
To prevent wheat and other cereals already present in the five Eastern European countries from being lost and above all prevent the free use of warehouses for local products, the European Commission is evaluating options to facilitate transit. “One of the possibilities could be for Brussels to buy cereals and then resell them on international markets,” explains a community official, who from memory considered the possibility an historic first.
In Poland, wheat imports increased from 2,375 tons in 2021 to 500,008 tons last year. In the same period, corn went from 5,863 tons to over 1.8 million tons. Similar increases were also recorded in Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. Meanwhile, on Friday, the Twenty-seven reached an agreement at the diplomatic level to extend the suspension of tariffs on Ukrainian cereals for another year.
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