Hungary asks the EU to extend the restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine
Hungary asks the European Union to extend the restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine to five Eastern European countries until the end of 2023.
This was announced by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Zsolt Feldman, stating that Hungary has appealed to Brussels to provide financial support to local farmers, as reported by Reuters. "We are interested in ensuring the safe completion of the harvest in Hungary and that Hungarian farmers can sell their products," Feldman said after a meeting of EU agriculture ministers in Brussels.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria have faced an excess of Ukrainian agricultural products and unilaterally banned the import of grains from Ukraine. The European Commission reached an agreement with these four countries and Romania at the end of April 2023, allowing them to block the sale of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower on their territories but not impede the transit of agricultural products to other countries. Additionally, the European Commission allocated 100 million euros in aid to affected farmers in these five countries.
On May 12, 2023, European countries demanded explanations from the European Commission regarding why Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria were granted 100 million euros. Ministers of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Luxembourg, Estonia, Denmark, and Slovenia stated that the agreement was reached "without consultation."
As of May 24, 2023, Hungary has not lifted the restrictions on agricultural imports from Ukraine. "There is still one country that has not withdrawn unilateral measures against agricultural exports from Ukraine. This does not necessarily have to affect Ukrainian transit and does not concern the entire EU. But we have proposed a package of assistance on the condition that unilateral measures must be withdrawn. The country that has not done so is Hungary," said the spokesperson for trade and agriculture at the European Commission, Miriam Garcia Ferrer.
On May 31, 2023, the EU announced how long the restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine could remain in effect. The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, proposed extending the trade restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine after June 5. According to his opinion, the restrictions should remain in place at least until the end of October, ideally until the end of the year, after the harvest. Otherwise, Europe will face significant problems, according to the European Commissioner.