Poland will extend Ukrainian grain ban “regardless of what Brussels decides”

Poland has reiterated that it will unilaterally block the import of Ukrainian grain if the EU does not agree to extend the current ban, which expires later this week. Trade policy within the EU is supposed to be the exclusive competence of Brussels. Ukraine has threatened legal action if the ban is extended.

“Regardless of what Brussels officials decide, we will not open our borders,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki this morning. “Poland will not allow us to be flooded with Ukrainian grain.”

Polska nie pozwoli, żeby zalało nas ukraińskie zboże.
Niezależnie od tego, jaka będzie decyzja brukselskich urzędników, nie otworzymy naszych granic. https://t.co/KvqvIYWQFz

— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) September 12, 2023

In a video published by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is campaigning for another term at next month’s parliamentary elections, Morawiecki emphasised that Poles have done a huge amount to help Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, including opening their doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees.

“But when we need to fight for Poland’s interests, only the PiS government gives a guarantee that the interests of our farmers will be protected,” continued the prime minister. “We say ‘no’ to disrupting and harming the Polish agricultural market, consumers and producers.”

Earlier this year, Polish farmers protested that growing exports of Ukrainian grain to and through eastern EU member states during the war were pushing down prices. That led Poland to unilaterally introduce a ban on imports and transit in May.

Most EU countries are opposed to extending the import ban on Ukrainian grain in five eastern member states, diplomats have told @POLITICOEurope.

The quintet – including Poland – want an extension but none of the remaining 22 member states are in favour https://t.co/LsmApQyZmj

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 6, 2023

Soon after, a deal was reached with the European Commission to ban the import of Ukrainian grain to the five eastern member states – Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania – but with transit through them allowed to continue. That ban is due to expire 15 September but the quintet want it extended.

However, diplomats told Politico Europe earlier this month that none of the other 22 EU member states have expressed support for extending the ban, and many – including Germany and France – are opposed to doing so.

Ukraine has also publicly criticised Poland’s support for extending the ban, which its prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, called “unfriendly and populist”. Last week, a Ukrainian deputy economy minister told Bloomberg that the country would file a complaint to the World Trade Organisation if Poland enacts a new ban.

Ukraine has accused Warsaw of “unfriendly and populist” actions after it called on the EU to extend the ban on Ukrainian grain imports

But Poland says Kyiv has misunderstood its intention, which is to continue transit of grain while keeping the import ban https://t.co/FjDIS0PaR6

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) July 21, 2023

Poland has emphasised, however, that it is only opposed to the import of Ukrainian grain onto its market and remains supportive of such grain transiting across its territory for sale in other markets, especially those outside Europe. It has called for Brussels to provide financing to better facilitate such transit.

Tomorrow, the European Commission will hold another meeting with representatives of Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary in with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable solution, reports the Ukrinform news agency.

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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