Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia will defy the European Union and extend a temporary ban placed on Ukrainian grain imports, in a move likely to anger the bloc’s leadership.
On Friday, the EU announced plans to suspend a temporary ban placed on the export of Ukrainian grain to a select number of countries in Eastern Europe.
The temporary measure adopted in May saw a ban placed on the imports of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia to counter the risk of farmers in these countries being undercut by a bottleneck of cheap Ukrainian grain.
Ukraine is a major supplier of grain and has been relying on its neighbors to send exports through while it has been unable to use Black Sea routes.
While Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky rejoiced in the news on Friday, his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki did not welcome the EU’s decision.
“We will extend this ban despite the European Union’s disagreement,” Prime Minister Morawiecki said, according to Polish state news agency PAP.
“We will not listen to Berlin or von der Leyen, Tusk or Weber. We will do it because it is in the interests of the Polish farmer,” Morawiecki continued, referring to EU leaders.
Later Friday, Polish government spokesperson, Piotr Muller announced the government’s plan to immediately introduce a regulation extending the ban on Ukrainian grain imports, stressing that the measure is being taken in the “interest of Polish farmers and consumers.”
Hungary has also opted to retain the ban with the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban announcing on Saturday on “X,” formerly known as Twitter, his plans to “take matters into our own hands.”
“Ukrainian agricultural products destined for Africa are flooding Central European markets. The bureaucrats in Brussels are turning a blind eye to the problems of European problems of European farmers once again so Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are extending the ban on imports on a national basis,” Orban stressed.
Slovakia’s Ministry of Agriculture announced its decision to extend the ban in a post on Facebook Friday, citing a need to safeguard Slovakia’s “domestic market.”
The decision by the three countries to apply their own measures may anger EU officials. Earlier Friday, European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis called on countries to “work along the lines” of the new agreement and “refrain from unilateral measures” on Ukrainian grain imports.