Expanding restrictions on import of Ukrainian food products into EU could prolong war – Solsky

Franco-Polish steps to expand restrictions on the import of Ukrainian food products into the EU could provoke the worsening and prolongation of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Minister of Agricultural Policy and Food Mykola Solsky said in an interview with the Financial Times.

In his opinion, additional restrictions, which are the subject of fierce debate within the European Union, although intended to calm angry European farmers, will at the same time deal a blow to Ukraine’s income and “increase the chances that the war will drag on.”

Solsky pointed out that it was not Ukraine’s fault that high harvests in the United States and Latin America led to a fall in grain prices. He also added that increasing protectionism and subsidies is not the solution for European farmers, as they need to become more efficient to compete in global markets.

“Some 80% of the problems that are usually associated with Ukrainian exports do not exist. They are invented,” says the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine.

The publication notes that Warsaw and Paris are making efforts to strengthen a preliminary agreement reached last week that imposes restrictions on many Ukrainian imports in exchange for an extension of the duty-free regime adopted after Moscow's full-scale invasion in 2022.

Farmers in Poland blocked the border with Ukraine, while in France anti-Ukrainian sentiment is also growing, and pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron is increasing. He, in turn, demands an increase in restrictions ahead of the meeting of EU ambassadors on March 27 to conclude an agreement on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products.

The agreement on the extension of autonomous trade measures, signed last week, already envisaged a reduction in imports of Ukrainian agricultural products to the EU by EUR400 million. The Franco-Polish proposal will reduce this amount by another EUR800 million.

Diplomats say the deciding vote will be in the hands of the Italian government, since a positive decision will require the support of a majority of EU member states, calculated according to their population. If Rome supports Warsaw and Paris, other EU member states will be forced to agree to big cuts to prevent the loss of duty-free access to the EU in June, the publication notes.