EU is now imposing duties on imports of Russian grain

The European Commission has proposed imposing heavy tariffs on imports of Russian grain and some other agricultural products. This was announced at the start of the European summit of the EU government leaders. Some EU countries have already started a boycott of purchasing Russian food products.

Brussels says that Russia is trying to influence the grain market in the EU countries by exporting cheap grain, and that President Putin is also using the proceeds to pay for the war against Ukraine.

The new EU measure against Russia applies to grains, oilseeds and derived products from Russia and Belarus. Under the proposal, the EU would impose an import tariff of 95 euros per tonne, an abrupt increase compared to the current zero tariffs.

During the Euro Summit, Latvian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda called for a total ban on Russian grain, which would require sanctions. Until now, 'food' was not covered by European economic sanctions against Moscow due to the Russian war against Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also raised the issue in his virtual address to EU leaders. “Unfortunately, Russian access to the European agricultural market is still unrestricted. And while shipments of Ukrainian grain are being destroyed and stopped, Russian products are still being shipped to Europe,” Zelensky said.

“This is not fair,” he said, referring to the ongoing blockades by Polish farmers. Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed their own bans on Ukrainian foods, which continue to this day. 

Despite attempts by Brussels to settle that dispute, the EU has not yet succeeded in finding a solution. Earlier this week, an agreement was reached to extend the free trade regime for Ukraine until 2025, with an 'emergency brake' if exports exceed the maximum of the past two years.

The proposal to impose import duties on Russian exports must still be approved by the EU countries with a qualified majority, probably next Monday at the monthly LNV Agricultural Council.