A farmers’ association in Romania has asked the government to continue a ban on Ukrainian grain and related products following a decision by the European Commission to lift restrictions, a move that would mirror actions announced by Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary.
“If a country like Poland, which strongly and thoroughly supports Ukraine against Russian aggression, has taken such a unilateral decision after the September 15 deadline expired, we don’t understand why Romania would be reserved about doing the same,” the farmers’ association said in a statement on September 16.
“Our request in no way affects the transit of Ukrainian farm products through Romania to other destinations, as it is going on at present,” the statement added.
Russia’s war against Kyiv and the disruption of Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea have resulted in the European Union becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.
In May, the European Commission agreed to allow Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds, while permitting transit of such cargoes for export elsewhere.
The five EU countries said the flood of products over the past 18 months had caused a slump in prices at home, hurting their farming sectors.
However, the commission allowed the ban to expire on September 15, despite protests from four of the five nations and vows of their unilateral action to protect farmers.
The parliament in Bulgaria, which previously supported the ban, on September 14 approved a decision to lift the restrictions, saying they risked raising prices for consumers. Sofia is seeking additional compensation from the commission for its farming sector in return for lifting the ban.
Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary on September 15 announced unilateral bans despite expiration of the commission restrictions.
Ukrainian grain shipments to Romania surpassed 9 million metric tons in the first eight months of 2023, arriving at the Black Sea port of Constanta, up from 8.6 million tons last year.
Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis on September 16 defended the decision to end the import ban on Ukrainian grain products, although he acknowledged that it was important to monitor the situation.
“We need exceptional circumstances to justify this type of restriction, and at the moment we see there is no disruption or distortion in the market of these five member states,” he said.
Source : Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty