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Tusk persuades Macron to support trade terms unfavorable to Ukraine, reports say

Tusk persuades Macron to support trade terms unfavorable to Ukraine, reports say Photo: Emmanuel Macron, President of France (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The compromise in the European Union (EU) on amendments to the trade agreement with Ukraine occurred because Poland managed to win over French President Emmanuel Macron, according to the Polish radio RMF FM.

On March 13, the plenary session of the European Parliament adopted the amendments of MEP Andrzej Galicki. At the same time, unfavorable conditions for Ukraine were adopted, which concerned the inclusion of the 2021 import threshold in the calculations, when the volume of agricultural goods was low. In particular, the amendments included expanding restrictions on cereals and honey.

After some time, the head of the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, Czeslaw Sekerski, convinced Prime Minister Donald Tusk to play a key role in the country's efforts to tighten restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural imports.

Poland has drawn France to its side

According to the radio's sources, the conversation between Tusk and French President Emmanuel Macron on March 15 was decisive in the above-mentioned issue. At the time, the latter knew little about the agreement with Ukraine but quickly realized that France could also get something if it supported Poland.

As early as March 20, MEPs supported the inclusion of oats, corn, cereals, and honey in the restrictions. However, they failed to include 2021 in the agreement and add wheat to the list.

At the same time, Poland and France spoke jointly. This resulted in a lack of support for the compromise that had been previously reached with the European Parliament.

On March 22, during the EU summit, Macron and Tusk presented the importance of changing the agreement with Ukraine. Negotiations on this were held not only officially but also behind the scenes. After the summit, on Friday, Macron spoke in more detail about Paris and Warsaw's demands for 2021 and the inclusion of wheat in the list of restrictions.

Compromise proposal

On Monday, March 25, the Belgian presidency tried to formulate a preliminary agreement that did not include provisions for 2021 but failed. Meanwhile, France and Poland were also supported by Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia.

The coalition of countries forced the Belgians to be more flexible, which led them to present a compromise proposal, which the European Commission called a possible final solution before the summit. The proposal includes the introduction of half of 2021, which will still have a strong impact on the reduction of Ukrainian imports.

Duty-free trade between Ukraine and EU

On March 25, the media reported that the European Union had postponed the approval of a duty-free trade agreement with Ukraine. Before this, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that the European Parliament and the European Council had previously agreed to extend the import of Ukrainian goods without duties and quotas until June 2025. The agreement is expected to be adopted in April.

Earlier, Taras Kachka, Deputy Economy Minister and Ukraine's trade representative said that Ukraine is ready to adopt new restrictions on its trade with the EU to defuse a heated political dispute with Poland, but also calls on the bloc to ban imports of Russian grain.