EU Lifts Ban on Ukrainian Grain Exports, Neighbors Rebel

    EU Lifts Ban on Ukrainian Grain Exports, Neighbors Rebel
    Last updated Sep 16, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • The European Commission on Friday decided not to extend an embargo on Ukrainian grain exports to five EU countries — setting up a clash with some of those involved.
    • The agreement, reached earlier in the year, prevented Ukrainian grain from being exported to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria after farmers complained that an influx of grain deflated local prices and hampered their livelihoods, prompting their governments to impose unilateral bans until the EU stepped in.
    • Now that the EU ban has been lifted, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary have already pledged to reintroduce their own restrictions — technically in violation of EU law. "We will extend this ban despite their disagreement, despite the European Commission’s disagreement," Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki told a campaign rally on Friday. "We will do it because it is in the interest of the Polish farmer."
    • Meanwhile, Hungary has gone a step further and imposed a national import ban on 24 Ukrainian agricultural products, including grains, vegetables, several meat products, and honey, according to a decree published by its government on Friday.
    • Bulgaria was the only one of the five countries to say it supported the EU's move to lift the ban. Its agriculture minister, Kiril Vatev, said he had previously supported extending the embargo but changed his mind upon seeing forecasts. "At the last meeting of the cabinet, macro indicators were shown, which show that it is not so worrying for Bulgaria to give up on this ban," he said.
    • Romania, in the meantime, has expressed regret over the EU's decision but didn't impose any unilateral actions. It said it would examine proposals submitted by Ukraine on limiting exports — a requirement of the EU's decision — before deciding on what it will do.


    This is a welcome decision by the EU. It demonstrates that Ukraine and the bloc can cooperate effectively to reach important agreements. This is a demonstration of the trust and unity between the two.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The EU's decision goes against the interests of its internal market and will cause price instability for millions of farmers. That is why Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have promptly acted to impose their own restrictions.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 0.5% chance that Ukraine will join the EU before 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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