Most EU countries are against extending an import ban on Ukrainian grain beyond mid-September, four EU diplomats told POLITICO, pushing back against calls by five eastern member countries to keep the restrictions in place, Report informs, citing POLITICO.
Ukrainian grain products — wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds — are banned from the markets of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia under a deal struck with the European Commission earlier this year to protect their farmers from an influx of cheaper produce from their war-torn neighbor.
The restrictions are due to expire on September 15, but the front-line five have been advocating for their extension until at least the end of the year.
At a meeting with the Commission on Wednesday, EU ambassadors from the remaining 22 member states either openly opposed the idea of extending the restrictions or remained deeply skeptical, a senior EU diplomat said. France and Germany were among the countries most critical of the extension, the diplomat said.
Two diplomats said that while many countries recognized the difficulties faced by the five eastern countries, they have asked the Commission to propose alternative measures.
One EU diplomat from a country skeptical of the extension argued that a decision to extend the import restrictions would be “purely political,” with Poland’s forthcoming general election looming over the discussion. The diplomats were granted anonymity as they are not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions.