EU warns against unilateral steps after Poland, Hungary ban Ukrainian grain

Published April 17, 2023
A worker loads a truck with grain at a terminal during barley harvesting in Odesa region, Ukraine June 23, 2022. — Reuters/File
A worker loads a truck with grain at a terminal during barley harvesting in Odesa region, Ukraine June 23, 2022. — Reuters/File

WARSAW: Unilateral action on trade by European Union member states is unacceptable, a European Commis­sion spokesperson said on Sunday, after Poland and Hungary announced bans on grain and other food imports from Ukraine to protect the local agricultural sector.

After Russia’s invasion blocked some Black Sea ports, large quantities of Ukrainian grain, which is cheaper than that produced in the European Union, ended up staying in Central European states due to logistical bottlenecks, hitting prices and sales for local farmers.

The issue has created a political problem for Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party in an election year as it has angered people in rural areas where support for PiS is usually high.

“We are aware of Poland and Hungary’s announcements regarding the ban on imports of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “In this context, it is important to underline that trade policy is of EU exclusive competence and, therefore, unilateral actions are not acceptable.” “In such challenging times, it is crucial to coordinate and align all decisions within the EU,” the statement added.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2023

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