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European Commission considers defending EU countries in Ukraine's grain dispute - FT

European Commission considers defending EU countries in Ukraine's grain dispute - FT Illustrative photo (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Maria Kholina

The European Commission is considering whether to defend Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia against a lawsuit filed by Ukraine with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for violating EU trade rules by banning the import of Ukrainian food products, Financial Times reports.

The three countries imposed unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian grain despite the European Commission's decision to lift these restrictions. Initially, the European Commission demanded that Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia lift their bans, but now it is working on "coordinating" their legal objections to Ukraine's lawsuit at the WTO.

In a written request sent to Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia on Wednesday, the Commission said that "as a matter of EU law" it will "act in these WTO proceedings initiated against member states." The Commission also added that the "The immediate next step is for the commission to respond to Ukraine on these consultation requests on behalf of all three member states."

It is reported that discussions inside the commission regarding whether or not to defend Poland, Hungary and Slovakia were continuing on Wednesday evening.

The commission said member states were "not allowed to take unilateral measures on trade" and that it was "assessing the legally complex situation".

"We are engaging with the concerned [member states] and will seek to work towards a constructive solution, so there would be no need to further pursue this case," they said.

Meanwhile, the EU may initiate its own procedure "to ensure that member states are in compliance with their obligations under EU law and their commitments in the WTO."

Grain import ban

In May 2023, the EU allowed five neighboring countries of Ukraine to impose a ban on the sale of certain Ukrainian agricultural products on their domestic markets, while transit of such goods for export to other countries was permitted.

On September 15, the European Commission lifted restrictions on the import of Ukrainian grain. However, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary announced that they would maintain their own import restrictions despite the European Commission's decision.

Following this, Ukraine filed lawsuits against Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary at the World Trade Organization due to the grain import ban.