Prime ministers of five EU countries enlist help from von der Leyen

EP Plenary session - Key debate - The social and economic consequences for the EU of the Russian war in Ukraine - reinforcing the EU's capacity to act

Five Prime Ministers of Central European EU countries have sent a joint letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. In it they call for action to be taken against the disruption of agricultural markets in their country due to increased Ukrainian agricultural exports, especially of grain. 

The Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are concerned about the consequences of the free overland transit routes to Baltic Sea ports in Lithuania and Poland and the Black Sea port in Bulgaria and Romania. Due to these EU corridors, Ukrainian grain exports increased sharply last year.

In addition, most import duties have been suspended. Many Ukrainian agricultural products now mainly end up in those five countries with EU support, where their farmers suffer loss of income.

The issue has long been the subject of discussion between the Central European countries and the European Union. The LNV ministers of those EU countries have unsuccessfully pressed for a limitation of too many pro-Ukrainian measures. The EU only wants to allocate several tens of millions of euros in emergency aid for a limited number of affected farmers, but not for all sectors in all EU countries. 

The letter from the five prime ministers to the committee chair raises the issue to a higher diplomatic and political level. They now suggest that reintroducing tariffs on Ukrainian grain exports could be a solution. EBU commissioners have said before that they do not want to withdraw this 'solidarity measure'.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Poland. Parliamentary elections will be held there later this year. Many farmers and rural people accuse the Polish PiS government of not standing up for farmers enough, and of adhering too much to EU rules. The Polish government coalition points out that it has won many EU subsidies.