Fee to rethink EU-Ukraine agri-food commerce liberalisation – EURACTIV.com


The European Fee is mulling over reconsidering the particular suspension for all tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian agri-food exports over the approaching weeks after complaints from member states that an inflow of agricultural items is placing EU farmers at a drawback.

Permitted in file time by EU lawmakers within the aftermath of the continuing Russian invasion, the present one-year short-term commerce liberalisation scheme – which entails suspended tariffs and quotas on agri-food imports from Ukraine – is up for overview in June 2023. 

Whereas virtually half of Ukraine’s agricultural items had been liberalised when the deep and complete free commerce settlement (DCFTA) with the EU entered into pressure again in 2016, the remainder of the merchandise had been topic to a transitional interval of commerce liberalisation lasting till Could 2023.

On the time, the unprecedented proposal of suspending import obligation on all agricultural merchandise was justified as essential to each enhance Ukraine’s economic system and contribute to the nation’s gradual integration into the EU inner market.

Nonetheless, the Fee is already mobilising to rethink this association in response to ‘rising stress’ from member states after the success of the EU govt’s solidarity lanes initiative, in accordance with a supply inside a preparatory assembly on Monday (23 January) forward of a gathering of EU agriculture ministers. 

The initiative, which was launched again in Could 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, concerned measures to assist the latter export agricultural items by way of all doable routes.

Nearly one yr after the beginning of the conflict, the measures have confirmed profitable: In December, a complete of three million tonnes of grain was exported by way of the solidarity lanes, in accordance with the EU govt.

Nonetheless, this success proved a double-edged sword as the numerous inflow of grain prompted tensions in neighbouring EU international locations.

As an example, again in September, Romanian grain producers warned that an inflow of Ukrainian grain by way of the solidarity lanes initiative was pushing them near chapter, whereas extra lately related complaints have additionally been heard from different neighbouring international locations corresponding to Poland. 

As such, in accordance with the supply, delegations from the neighbouring international locations – together with Poland, Hungary and Romania – emphasised the necessity to deal with the detrimental influence of Ukraine imports on neighbouring international locations and the influence on their farmers’ competitiveness, with some calling for compensation. 

Additionally they voiced help for the thought of reconsidering the customized settlement for some cereals imported from Ukraine, particularly with regard to checks for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, highlighting the potential danger of importing contaminated grains. 

Whereas the Fee consultant pressured the significance of the solidarity lanes,  they acknowledged that this association has offered a “problem for our farmers”.

As such, the consultant mentioned that the EU govt might be debating these over the approaching weeks, including that the forthcoming EU-Ukraine Summit, happening on 3 February, might be an “alternative” to debate the EU’s cooperation and help to the worn-torn nation. 

No unanimity on disaster reserve  

In the meantime, the Fee consultant current on the assembly took the chance to gauge member states’ reactions to the thought of utilizing the EU’s Frequent Agricultural Coverage’s (CAP) disaster reserve to assist farmers in international locations like Poland or Romania which are battling an inflow of grain from neighbouring Ukraine. 

The disaster reserve is a €450 million fund included within the CAP scheme that can be utilized to finance distinctive measures to counteract market disruptions affecting manufacturing or distribution.

The thought has already been floated by EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, however its activation requires the settlement of all EU agriculture ministers.

In response to the supply contained in the assembly, various international locations – together with Finland, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia and the Czech Republic – welcomed the activation of the agricultural reserve “as quickly as doable”. In the meantime, Slovakia mentioned it was open to the thought however that it needed to be fastidiously thought-about.

Nonetheless, various others voiced their opposition to the thought, together with France, the Netherlands and Denmark, whereas Italy remained ‘sceptical’ and Malta voiced considerations that the sum was inadequate for the problem. 

For his or her half, the Fee consultant suggested member states to proceed with warning, noting that it’s nonetheless early within the yr and, as such, EU international locations ought to be “aware and depart adequate sources for remainder of the yr/potential points”.

[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna/Nathalie Weatherald]

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