EU’s eastern "frontier" states seek longer ban on Ukraine imports

25 Aug 2023 | Eoin Hughes

The agriculture ministers of the five "frontier" European Union states of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria have agreed on a common position in favor of extending a ban on grain imports from Ukraine until the end of this year after a meeting Friday, a statement from the Polish government has said.

Transit of grains through these states is still allowed, and the five ministers also agreed that the EU should launch subsidies for grain transiting from Ukraine.

In May, the European Commission agreed to implement a ban on Ukrainian imports of wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower into Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia until September 15.

While the five states have pushed for longer, the most recent decision of the Commission, on July 25, was that the bloc would await the result of the current harvest before further decisions, while the next EU informal meeting of agriculture ministers will be from September 3 to 5.

The majority of other EU member states are understood to be against extending the ban. 

The five ministers further agreed to a joint demand that the European Commission direct funds to build infrastructure to help Ukraine transport grain, and suggested the list of Ukrainian products that cannot enter their markets should be “flexible.”

The Polish Minister Robert Telus also presented data which showed that 9 million mt of grain has been exported from Poland since January.

This may ease some fears about overly high Polish stocks after a backlog from last year’s harvest.