The European Commission (EC) has reached an agreement with five member states to address their concerns over imports from Ukraine driving down prices for farmers AgriCensus reported European Union (EU) trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis as saying.
“We reached an agreement in principle with five neighbouring member states – Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – as well as with Ukraine itself,” Dombrovskis told a press conference on 28 April following an informal Ecofin council meeting.
“The EC will propose emergency safeguard measures for the four most sensitive products - wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflowerseed. We will launch so-called ‘safeguard investigations' on several other products as well.”
The announcement followed statements by agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski that the EU could be close to implementing a temporary, limited ban on agricultural imports from Ukraine to the five member states, while still allowing transit through these countries, the 1 May report said.
Wojciechowski added sunflower oil to the list of products included in the proposed ban, along with the other four, according to the report. These products account for about 90% of all imports from Ukraine into the EU.
The five member states had been pushing to include other products, such as sugar, honey, milk products and poultry meat to the list of banned imports, but the commissioner said he did not consider this to be necessary as the volume of imports was minor compared to the others, AgriCensus wrote.
In addition, Dombrovskis said that the EC would propose a €100M (US$109.32M) support package for affected farmers in the five member states, in return for the states’ withdrawal of unilateral measures introduced to curb Ukrainian imports, the report said.
The affected member states had previously said this figure was insufficient.
The proposal would be subject to approval by other EU member states before it could be implemented, the report said.
In a separate report on 27 April, sources told AgriCensus the proposed import bans sought by EU countries bordering Ukraine could push cheaper oilseed supply to northwest Europe, giving them an advantage in terms of crushing margins.
“If the ban really comes in place, the crushing margins will move to Rotterdam and Germany,” one Bulgarian trader was quoted as saying.
Bulgarian crushing companies, which had benefitted from cheap imports from Ukraine, were particularly concerned, according to the report.
In a separate agreement, the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee agreed on 27 April to extend the suspension of EU import duties on Ukrainian exports for another year to support the country’s economy during the war with Russia, AgriCensus wrote on 1 May.
The suspension applies to fruits and vegetables subject to the entry price system, as well as agricultural products and processed agricultural products subject to tariff-rate quotas, due to expire on 5 June.
The extension would now be put to all members of the European Parliament (MEPs) during the upcoming plenary session on 8-11 May and would also be subject to approval by the European Council.