Agriculture: the Twenty-Seven approve the regulation of Ukrainian imports

The States of the European Union renewed this Wednesday, February 21, the exemption from customs duties for Ukrainian agricultural imports, combining it with reinforced “safeguard mechanisms” to limit their impact, at the heart of recent farmer demonstrations. through Europe.

Harvest in the kyiv region, August 2023. European farmers accuse the influx of cereals, eggs and chickens from Ukraine of lowering local prices. AP - Efrem Lukatsky

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The ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven validated the European Commission's proposal aimed at renewing for one year, from June,

the suspension of customs duties for products from Ukraine

and Moldova entering the European Union. The text must now be approved by MEPs during a vote in plenary session in April. “ 

We are showing our unwavering support for Ukraine, while protecting our internal market from an excessive increase in imports of certain sensitive agricultural products

,” responded Hadja Lahbib, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Farmers accuse the influx of cereals, eggs and chickens from Ukraine of lowering local prices, particularly in neighboring countries, and of maintaining “ 


” competition due to failure to meet certain standards (mass-raised poultry, etc.). . Imports of Ukrainian agricultural products jumped 11% in value over one year in January-September 2023. A

particularly sensitive subject in Poland

, where the blocking of the border by angry farmers has caused a violent crisis between Warsaw in recent days. and Kiev.

Also read: Today's economy – Why competition from Ukraine is fueling the unease of European farmers

To address their concerns, the European Commission's proposal includes " 

remedial measures

" that can be quickly adopted in the event of " 

significant disruptions

" in the market, including if they only affect a single member state. Above all, for three products qualified as “ 


” – poultry, eggs and sugar – an “ 

emergency brake 

” is planned to “ 


” imports at average volumes imported in 2022 and 2023, levels beyond which tariffs customs duties would be reimposed.

Endorsed as is by the ambassadors, this arsenal of restrictions will remain supervised by Brussels, contrary to the embargo imposed unilaterally in 2023 by neighboring states of Ukraine, to the great dismay of the Commission, watchdog of trade policy. The agricultural sector, however, considers these new safeguards insufficient.

In addition to the still very strong anger of Polish farmers, Copa-Cogeca – the powerful organization bringing together the majority agricultural unions – and five sectoral associations called in mid-February for restrictions to be drastically tightened.

The proposed cap for three products corresponds to high volumes "which precisely caused" the current crisis, while "no restrictions are planned (automatically) for cereals and honey despite the significant Ukrainian production capacity", they lamented in a joint press release. “ 

This approach will fail to address farmers’ concerns, and will likely lead to further protests

,” they warned.





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