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Polish illegal ban on Ukrainian farm products - a hysterical reaction that plays into Putin's hands


18 Apr 2023


Global Europe

As an example of yet another clear disregard of EU rules, the Polish PiS government has introduced an illegal ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural and food products to the territory of Poland.

For the Socialists and Democrats, this move is not only a direct breach of the rules guarding EU’s common commercial policy, but also a serious blow to the EU-Ukraine partnership, straining the economy of war-torn Ukraine even further.

Over the last year, some eastern EU member states, predominantly Poland and Romania have witnessed an increase of inflows of agricultural products from Ukraine as a result of the trade preferences put in place by the EU in June 2022 and the Solidarity Lanes established to substitute closed Black Sea trade routes. Both initiatives proved to be highly successful in supporting Ukraine’s war-struck economy by providing much needed foreign revenue and alleviating problems with wheat shortages in world markets.

Marek Belka, S&D vice-President responsible for trade and shadow rapporteur for trade relations with Ukraine, said:

“The newly introduced illegal ban is a hysterical reaction of the Polish government, who faces strong protests from Polish wheat producers dissatisfied with its performance in the agricultural sector.

“The Polish PiS government has a great talent for blaming others, especially the EU, for its incompetence. Since last year, Polish government officials, aware of the potential side effects of the trade preferences on the Polish wheat market, did absolutely nothing. They did not improve transit efficiency of Ukrainian agricultural products, nor did they initiate any support programs for Polish farmers. When the situation got dire, it did not even occur to them to motion for the reintroduction of tariffs and quotas under EU safeguard clauses. Instead, we observe yet another festival of finger-pointing at the EU and unilateral measures in breach of EU law. This is unacceptable.

“It is not the first time the PiS government has shown a total disregard for EU rules. However, this time it is Ukraine that gets hit the most. Only 10 days after a historical visit of President Zelensky to Warsaw, Polish authorities show that nothing is more sacred than keeping Jarosław Kaczyński in power.”

Inma Rodríguez-Piñero, S&D MEP and coordinator in the European Parliament’s international trade committee, added:

“The inflows of Ukrainian agricultural products has caused some market disturbances in some member states. But instead of tackling them in coordination and with the help of EU institutions and other member states, the PiS government has decided once again to breach EU rules and has illegally stopped trade flows to which it agreed almost a year earlier.

“I am worried that this decision plays very well into the hands of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The import ban strikes right at the heart of the Solidarity Lanes project, which created important alternatives for the Black Sea trade shipping of grain. Now, Russia would only need to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative to once again choke Ukraine's grain exports. This is an unacceptable scenario from a geopolitical point of view and Polish authorities should know better than to waste the EU's efforts in supporting Ukraine.”