Agriculture Bulgaria Diplomacy Hungary Slovakia Ukraine

Romania holds out on Ukraine import ban, urges neighbours to wait for EU solution

| 2023-04-24 2 min read

Romania holds out on Ukraine import ban, urges neighbours to wait for EU solution

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Romanian Minister of Agriculture Petre Daea expressed solidarity with farmers from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia – who all unilaterally stopped Ukrainian farm imports last week – after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solsky on Friday, 21 April, reported.

However Daea said “we must make the rules together, not enter into a competition of legal decisions”, rather than make unilateral decisions on allowing Ukrainian grain and other agricultural goods. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania all share a border with Ukraine. 

Daea told members of the Romanian press that  his “useful” meeting with Solsky was with “a friend and fellow sufferer”, adding that “the norms we knew have disappeared, and we are now forced to make new rules to respond to the needs of both Ukrainian and Romanian farmers.”

He expressed his respect for Romanian farmers, who have held nationwide protests over the impact of tariff-free Ukrainian produce onto the local market, but also for “the agreements we signed, so that the rule remains the rule”.

Measures are under discussion at European Commission (EC) level, “who know commercial policy is its prerogative in a single market”, he added.

Daea recalled that the EC has underlined and reiterated the illegality of the farm ban decisions taken by Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia. 

“The decisions taken by our colleagues from the (boycotting) countries that took this decision are illegal, and it is necessary to lift these decisions in such a way so that the EC can get into the legitimate game of setting the rules to protect our farmers,” he said.

“We are also in solidarity with the farmers from other countries, from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia, just as you are in solidarity with us and the Ukrainian farmers, but we must make the rules together.”

“Let’s not enter into a legal contest (that) creates additional problems for us”, said Daea. He added that it was agreed to wait for the decision that will be taken in Brussels, “since we are the signatories of a joint letter addressed to the EC president”. 

Daea recalls joint letter to EC

The minister commented that “Romanian farmers are asking themselves how Romania cannot do it under the conditions in which the others could. That is why we agreed to wait for the decision that the Commission will take, as we are the signatories of a joint letter addressed to the President of the European Commission, a letter signed by the four Prime Ministers: the Prime Minister of Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the President of Bulgaria. 

“We the five ministers from the countries in the proximity of the war, agreed through a joint letter to make proposals to the Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for Trade Policy, and the Commissioner for Agriculture.

The Romanian Minister of Agriculture also recalled the compensation sum that the EC pledged to grant as compensation for farmers in the five countries.

“The EC, through two commissioners, came up with a package that involves two possibilities of intervention. One by compensating the affected farmers from the five countries, communicating to us the sum of EUR 100mn made available to them. 

“The second support proposed was an exceptional safeguarding procedure, to stop the import of cereals and four products – wheat, corn, sunflower and rape, in the five countries until June 5.

“The EC said it would analyze this request, but the condition was to renounce the unilateral decisions taken by the four countries,” Daea added.