Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have decided to withdraw from an EU platform that coordinated Ukrainian grain imports after Kiev threatened to sue the three nations for banning the import of Ukrainian produce. The Ukrainian government announced on Monday that it would bring a case against Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia at the World Trade Organization (WTO) after they imposed unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian seeds and grains.
The EU had previously allowed five Eastern European nations, including Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, to block the import of Ukrainian agricultural products for domestic sale. However, the EU refused to reauthorize the ban on Friday, which led to the three countries imposing their own bans.
According to an anonymous source in Brussels, the decision to withdraw from the EU platform was made out of caution. The source stated that these countries were concerned that Ukraine could use information provided within the framework of the coordination platform against them during WTO proceedings.
Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia argue that Ukrainian agricultural imports undercut domestic prices and threaten the livelihoods of local farmers. However, Ukrainian trade representative Taras Kachka dismissed these concerns, stating that prices are global.
In response to the bans imposed by Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, Bulgarian farmers staged a nationwide protest on Monday, causing blockades at highways and border crossings. Bulgaria and Romania have not imposed unilateral bans, but Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu stated that he would consider a ban if Ukrainian produce started flowing into the country.
The EU and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky have both condemned the unilateral bans. Zelensky praised the decision by Brussels not to extend the ban, stating that it is an example of true unity and trust between Ukraine and the EU. He believes that Europe always wins when the rules work and treaties are fulfilled.
The situation between Ukraine and Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia highlights the complexities of agricultural trade within the EU. It also emphasizes the importance of coordination and cooperation among member states to ensure fair and balanced trade practices. The legal proceedings at the WTO will likely shed more light on the issue and determine the outcome of the dispute.