The deal was sealed last month after Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria complained about an influx of Ukrainian grain that had fostered unfair competition and lowered prices for domestic products.
A group of 12 EU countries, including Germany and France, have raised “serious concerns” about the tariff-free deal for Ukraine’s grain exports.
The deal was sealed last month after Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria complained about an influx of Ukrainian grain that had fueled unfair competition and lowered prices for domestic products.
Talks with the European Commission led to a temporary arrangement under which four Ukrainian foodstuffs – wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds – would be allowed to pass through the five eastern countries but not be stored on their territory or bought for local consumption.
That solution is now being challenged by a larger group of member states, which believe the deal runs counter to the bloc’s trade rules, lacks transparency and requires further consultations.
difficulties for member states
“We are in favor of finding European solutions to take into account the difficulties faced by some member states. However, the integrity of the internal market cannot be an adjustment variable,” the 12 countries wrote in a joint letter to the European Commission.
“The actions taken by the Commission on 2 May without consulting other member states, related to selectively limiting imports from Ukraine, raise serious concerns as they lead to differential treatment within the same internal market,” the letter went on.
the message, seen by Euronews.Signed by the Ministers of Agriculture of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia, and dated May 10, the collective initiative was led by France.
“At the very least, there is a need to clarify how these proposals and measures relate to the rules and operation of the internal market and trade policy of the Union, in particular with regard to the EU’s obligations to Ukraine arising from the Association Agreement,” the letter continued.
In response to the joint proposal, a spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed on Friday that the Commission had received the letter and plans to respond “in due course”.
Defending the interim deal, the spokesperson said: “We felt there was a very clear case for action to provide support to farmers who have been affected by this bottleneck.”
He added, “It is important for us that agricultural products continue to flow from Ukraine. It is very important for us to ensure that Ukraine can continue to export grain.”
On the issue of transparency, the spokesperson said all 27 member states had been informed of the grain deal before it was officially approved.
The agreement struck late last month between the European Commission and the five member states involved – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria – came after four of them imposed unilateral bans on large-scale imports of Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs.