The Polish prosecutor’s office announced on Monday February 12 that it had opened an investigation after Polish farmers blocked a truck coming from Ukraine on Sunday and dumped its cargo of cereals intended for the European Union on the road. Polish peasants wanted to protest against their importation, perceived as unfair competition from their Ukrainian counterparts.
But this action caused a new crisis between Ukraine and Poland. “The deterioration of Ukrainian grain on the Polish border is unacceptable”castigated the head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, on X.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy declared in a press release “firmly denounce” there “deliberate destruction” of cereals which “has nothing to do with peaceful protests”. “Ukrainian farmers work under constant enemy shelling and suffer huge losses. They pay dearly for their crops, sometimes with their lives”continued the ministry.
Anger of farmers in Europe
Poland has been among Ukraine’s biggest supporters since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, but friction over the previous government’s unilateral ban on grain imports in Warsaw has damaged relations between the allies. In recent days, Polish authorities have raised the possibility of imposing new import bans on Ukrainian agricultural products to protect their farmers.
The European Commission said on Monday ” continue “ to look for “solutions” which would make it possible to preserve “maximum economic support for Ukraine”ravaged by two years of war. “We believe that work should be done not at the border, not in a pressure situation, but by sitting down at the negotiating table”declared a spokesperson for the Commission, Olof Gill.
The issue of importing Ukrainian agricultural products made easier since Russia’s invasion of the country was raised by farmers, who mobilized across Europe earlier this year. To respond to this anger, the European Commission proposed at the end of January to renew from June the exemption from customs duties enjoyed by agricultural products entering the EU, by combining it with “safeguard measures” to limit the volumes of the most sensitive products. For certain products – poultry, eggs and sugar –, a “emergency brake” is planned for “stabilize” imports at average volumes imported in 2022 and 2023, levels beyond which customs duties would be reimposed, the European executive indicated.