Obtain free EU commerce updates
We’ll ship you a myFT Day by day Digest e-mail rounding up the most recent EU commerce information each morning.
Germany has led condemnation of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia’s unilateral curbs on grain imports from Ukraine, accusing the international locations of cherry-picking EU insurance policies and placing their very own pursuits over Ukraine.
The remarks by Cem Ozdemir, the German meals and agriculture minister, underscored the broader ramifications of the Ukrainian grain dispute, which has posed the most important problem in many years to Brussels’ authority over EU commerce.
His objections had been echoed by Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU’s setting commissioner, who referred to as on the three international locations to rescind bans that go towards the bloc’s commerce coverage. “We must always stay united in our messages,” he advised the Monetary Occasions. “These issues are rather more than simply grain transit.”
The European Fee lifted a ban on imports of 4 Ukrainian grains, together with wheat and maize, on Friday on the situation that Kyiv agreed to stop surges of grain into neighbouring EU international locations.
Within the hours that adopted Poland, Slovakia and Hungary utilized their very own curbs, flouting EU guidelines in an effort to shield farmers from an alleged glut of Ukrainian merchandise. Poland and Slovakia are each holding elections inside weeks.
Ozdemir mentioned the fee had made the “proper choice” to elevate the ban and accused the jap European international locations of “part-time solidarity” with Ukraine. “When it fits you, you’re in solidarity and when it doesn’t go well with you, you aren’t,” he added.
France and Spain additionally criticised the transfer as in breach of core EU guidelines, which has granted the fee oversight of frequent commerce coverage because the Seventies.
Marc Fesneau, the French agricultural minister, mentioned the unilateral measures “name into query the one market and the frequent market very deeply”. Luis Planas, Spain’s agriculture minister, recommended the measures had been illegal however mentioned it was “for the fee to evaluate”.
Ukraine has mentioned it can take Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the World Commerce Group and will retaliate with its personal commerce curbs towards merchandise from the three international locations.
The unilateral bans put the fee in an ungainly place as it’s liable for performing because the bloc’s commerce negotiator. If Ukraine pursues its WTO motion, Brussels might face having to defend the three international locations towards Kyiv.
The fee has thus far declined to elaborate on whether or not it can take formal authorized motion towards the three renegade international locations, insisting it was searching for a compromise. Poland led a bunch that first launched the import bans earlier this 12 months, which the fee later adopted as an EU-wide measure to take care of a short lived surge in provide.
An EU diplomat mentioned the EU’s 24 different member states would hold “a really shut eye” on the fee’s response so it doesn’t set a precedent that may “additional undermine the treaties and the interior market”.
A fee spokesperson mentioned that Brussels was “analysing the measures” being adopted and was centered “on making the system work”.
Brussels lifted tariffs on imports of Ukrainian grain shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion as a option to increase Ukraine’s financial system. It has additionally poured tens of millions of euros into bettering infrastructure alongside rail and river corridors to attempt to get grain to ports in different EU international locations after Moscow pulled out of a scheme to permit exports through the Black Sea.
Hungary on Friday mentioned it could proceed to curb Ukrainian grain imports and added dozens of meals teams together with frozen and recent beef, pork, lamb, goat, honey and wine.
“If low-cost Ukrainian imports flood the markets of neighbouring EU member states . . . we are able to’t watch this idly,” Hungarian farm minister István Nagy mentioned on Fb on Saturday.
Poland has additionally added sure seeds and Ukrainian flour to the 4 grains embargoed by the unique EU ban.
Forward of an important October 15 nationwide election in Poland, politicians from the ruling right-wing PiS social gathering mentioned that Warsaw would resist EU stress to elevate the curbs and accused Ukraine of meddling unduly in EU affairs.
Beata Szydło, a former prime minister of Poland, on Monday referred to as Ukraine’s commerce envoy Taras Kachka “merely impertinent” for lecturing Poland about what EU states are allowed to do.