EU to back members against Ukraine – FT
The EU is considering whether to defend Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia against a grievance filed by Ukraine after the three countries announced unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian seeds and grains, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
This summer, Brussels allowed five Eastern European nations to block importing these products for domestic sale but refused to extend the ban this month. As a result, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia imposed their own prohibitions, going against the EU policy of acting in unison on trade matters.
The three countries’ officials argued that Ukrainian agricultural imports undercut domestic prices and threatened the livelihoods of local farmers. As for the other two countries, Romania has not applied unilateral measures after the EU block was lifted, while Bulgaria imposed an embargo on sunflower seeds from Ukraine on Wednesday after days of protests by farmers.
In response, Kiev filed a dispute with the World Trade Organization. Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia later said they were withdrawing from an EU platform coordinating Ukrainian grain imports.
According to the FT, the European Commission (EC) had initially demanded that Budapest, Warsaw, and Bratislava reverse their bans, as EU member states are “not allowed to take unilateral measures on trade.” It is now reportedly working to “coordinate” its legal rebuttals to Kiev’s filing.
The commission’s written request sent to the three nations on Wednesday reportedly said that “as a matter of EU law,” it will “act in these WTO proceedings initiated against member states.”
“The immediate next step is for the commission to respond to Ukraine on these consultation requests on behalf of all three member states,” the document said, as quoted by FT.
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