BRUSSELS – The European Union said it was ending an import ban on Ukrainian grain in five member states on Friday after Kyiv promised to control exports.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has closed off Black Sea shipping lanes used before the war, resulting in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.
But in May, the EU began restricting the grain imports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, seeking to protect their farmers who blamed the imports for a slump in prices on local markets.
The European Commission said “existing measures will expire today” when they run out at midnight.
“The market distortions in the 5 Member States bordering Ukraine have disappeared,” the EU’s executive arm said.
The commission said the decision was taken after Kyiv agreed to introduce measures such as an export licensing system within 30 days to “avoid grain surges”.
In the meantime, it said Ukraine would put in place measures to control the export of wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds, to avoid upsetting markets in its EU neighbours.
The move is set to delight Ukraine, which had pushed the EU to drop the measures amid a diplomatic spat with Poland.
But it could enrage Warsaw, after the Polish authorities said they would extend the restrictions unilaterally even if the EU measures expired.
The measures allowed the products to keep transiting through the five countries, but stopped them being sold on the local market.
The issue is particularly sensitive in Poland where elections take place next month.
The current populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party has strong support in farming regions.
Russia’s stifling of grain exports from agricultural powerhouse Ukraine has spurred global concerns over grain supplies.
Moscow pulled the plug on a United Nations deal to allow exports via the Black Sea in July and has since upped attacks on Ukrainian export facilities.
The EU has bolstered other routes over land and along rivers that have been used to export over 44 million tonnes of grain from Ukraine since the invasion. AFP
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