EU agriculture continues to fiddle with Ukrainian grain exports

The European Parliament and the EU countries have now agreed on stricter customs requirements for certain foodstuffs from Ukraine. In concrete terms, this concerns agricultural products such as poultry, eggs, sugar, oats, corn, semolina and honey. The import of grain is now more strictly controlled and registered, but the quantities are not yet limited.

At the same time, the reference period is now being extended; not only for 2022 and 2023, but also including the second half of 2021. Before the outbreak of the Russian war, exports were significantly higher.

The European Union is expected to continue discussing restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural imports. There is still some grumbling in agricultural circles because the influx would put pressure on local prices. According to opponents, the exemption would also create “unfair competition” because Ukrainian agriculture does not have to meet the same standards as farmers in the EU.

Last month, the European Parliament approved an initiative by the Christian Democratic European People's Party, which positions itself as pro-Ukrainian, to tighten import restrictions and extend them to more products, including grain. 

That position was seen as a victory for the powerful Copa-Cogeca farmers' lobby, which urged EU politicians to partially withdraw the granted trade liberalization with Ukraine. Poland and France also insisted on this, but other EU countries were against this.

There is still no united position in the European Parliament. This will now have to be voted on again in Strasbourg on April 24. Two of the largest groups, the European People's Party and the Socialists and Democrats, are calling for additional restrictions, while others, including Renew Europe and the Greens, want to stick to the previously agreed original compromise.