EUROPE – The European Council (EC) has greenlit the extension of import duty suspensions and quotas on Ukrainian and Moldovan exports to the European Union for another year, to bolster support for Ukraine amidst its prolonged conflict with Russia.

This decision underscores the EU’s commitment to standing by Ukraine during its time of need and extends crucial economic assistance to the war-torn nation.

Following deliberations in Brussels, the EC announced that the EU’s autonomous trade measures for Ukraine will remain in effect from June 6, 2024, until June 5, 2025. 

These measures entail the continued suspension of all outstanding customs duties and quotas under Title IV of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which initially came into effect in 2022.

The extension of these trade measures is not merely a gesture of solidarity but also serves to fortify the protection of EU farmers, particularly in sensitive agricultural sectors. 

Additionally, two new safeguard mechanisms have been introduced to safeguard the EU market, allowing for swift remedial action in the event of significant disruptions.

These mechanisms include regular monitoring and the imposition of quotas if exports of key agricultural and food products surpass the levels of the previous three years. 

An “emergency brake” provision will also be activated if import volumes of specific products, including eggs, poultry, sugar, oats, maize, groats, and honey, exceed certain thresholds based on past import data.

However, it’s worth noting that no restrictions are planned for cereals like wheat and barley, reflecting a strategic decision to maintain flexibility in certain agricultural sectors.

Nevertheless, the liberalization of trade policies for Ukraine has not been without controversy. In countries like Poland, Hungary, and Romania, where agriculture holds significant economic importance, the EU’s trade measures have sparked tensions and protests among local farmers and agricultural organizations. 

Concerns have been raised regarding the perceived threat to domestic agriculture and the livelihoods of local farmers.

European agri-food and farming groups have expressed reservations about the trade measures, emphasizing the need for stronger safeguards to protect EU producers and manufacturers from potential market disruptions.

They argue that while solidarity with Ukrainian farmers is crucial, sustainable solutions must be sought to ensure the long-term viability of sensitive sectors within the EU.

The extension of autonomous trade measures for Moldova until July 2025 further underscores the EU’s commitment to supporting neighboring countries in the region.

Moving forward, stakeholders will continue to monitor developments closely, seeking to strike a balance between supporting Ukraine’s recovery and safeguarding the interests of EU farmers and manufacturers.

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