The decision of Brussels not to prolong the ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products in the five bordering member countries “is outrageous and unacceptable”, István Nagy, the minister of agriculture, said in Brussels on Monday. After taking part in a meeting of EU agriculture ministers, Nagy told Hungarian journalists that the European Commission’s decision not to prolong the import ban had caused “serious problems”, and also raised political questions insofar as EC president Ursula von der Leyen chose to discuss the matter with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky rather than the elected leaders of EU member states.
Nagy said the interests of a third country appeared to be more important to the EC than those of EU member states. The EU, he added, had allowed Ukraine carte-blanche over import controls, which he said was “laughable”.
The ban on the import of Ukrainian grain is a matter of 6 billion euros for the five EU member states involved, he said. “Brussels refuses to understand this, which is why brave, tough and unilateral national measures had to be taken,” he said, adding that otherwise the countries would be flooded with Ukrainian grain before harvest. The minister said the import ban must be reinstated, and if any country chose to relax it or request an exception, they were free to do so.
The grain can be transported through solidarity corridors to third countries, but it must not end up in European markets, he said. Nagy said financial support was needed for land transport so that the grain reached sea ports and on to traditional market in Africa. “We warned the commission that if Ukrainian grain does not arrive there, Russian grain may take its place,” he added.