The European Union will extend to September 15 restrictions on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products imposed by five member states seeking to protect their farmers, the commission said on Monday.
Major grain producer Ukraine was forced to export more of its produce by land through EU neighbours after Russia blockaded its Black Sea ports following the invasion that began in February last year. The EU suspended import duties on Ukrainian agricultural products in May 2022 in a sign of solidarity with its war-torn neighbour.
But the flood of Ukrainian grain imports in eastern European countries put pressure on prices and sparked concern about a saturation of local markets, with Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia unilaterally banning them in April. Later that month, Brussels reached a deal with five member states, due to expire on Monday, allowing them to block the commercialisation of four products as long as their transit to other countries was not prevented.
The bloc will “phase out by 15 September” the restrictions affecting Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed that were adopted due to “logistical bottlenecks” in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, the commission said in a statement.
“These measures continue to be necessary for a limited period of time given the exceptional circumstances of serious logistical bottlenecks and limited grain storage capacity ahead of the harvest season” in the five countries, it added.