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EU farmers' association COPA-COGECA called for increased control over imports from Ukraine

EU farmers' association COPA-COGECA called for increased control over imports from Ukraine The European farmers' organization COPA-COGECA calls for increased control over imports from Ukraine (photo: Getty Images)

The COPA-COGECA, the union of large agricultural organizations in the European Union, has criticized the European Commission's plan to reintroduce trade liberalization with the possibility of restricting imports of poultry, eggs, and sugar from Ukraine, but without including grain and honey in the list, according to the organization's website.

According to the union, if the Commission's proposed text is adopted without amendments, the economic stability of the poultry, egg, sugar, grain, and honey sectors in the EU will be threatened.

In the group's press release, it is noted that the European Commission's decision to fully liberalize our trade with Ukraine to support the local economy against Russian aggression adopted almost two years ago, has led to significant imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, prompting the EU to adopt a strategic medium-term vision.

"Farmers in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia are currently selling their products at prices approximately 40% below the standard market price - assuming they are able to sell them at all," the statement said.

COPA-COGECA also draws attention to the mobilization of protest movements by farmers in European countries neighboring Ukraine. They speak of significant pressure being felt by farmers, and producers of grain, poultry meat, and sugar in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria.

In this context, the organization advocates for strengthened control over the import of agricultural products from Ukraine. In particular, they want the Commission to agree to impose restrictions on the import of Ukrainian grain and honey.

Otherwise, the group predicts the continuation of protests and further strikes by farmers in Europe, which could lead to unilateral bans and, ultimately, a reduction in support for Ukraine.

The situation with imports from Ukraine to the EU

The preferential trade regime with the EU was introduced after Russia invaded Ukraine and began on June 4, 2022. It was then extended for a year. In 2023, the European Commission imposed restrictions on the import of some agricultural products from Ukraine to neighboring EU countries. In January 2024, Poland appealed to the European Commission to restore tariff quotas for some Ukrainian products but was refused.

It was also reported that Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary are again demanding that the European Commission impose import duties on Ukrainian grain due to alleged unfair competition.

At the end of January, the European Commission officially proposed to extend the abolition of import duties for agricultural products from Ukraine for 2024. However, restrictions on imports were also proposed.

Recently, European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis called on Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia to lift unilateral restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine, as Brussels has developed alternative protection mechanisms.