Ukraine has announced its intention to take legal action against Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia over their refusal to lift a ban on Ukrainian agricultural products. The decision comes as Ukraine grapples with an ongoing conflict against Russia and seeks to challenge the European Union’s failure to enforce its free-trade commitments.
In an interview with POLITICO’s Playbook, Ukraine’s Trade Representative, Taras Kachka, stressed the importance of proving the legality of these actions. He said: “It is important to prove that these actions are legally wrong. And that’s why we will start legal proceedings tomorrow.”
Kachka also hinted at potential retaliatory measures against Polish exports as Ukraine heads into a pivotal general election on October 15.
The dispute centres around the European Commission’s decision last Friday to allow the sale of Ukrainian grain across the EU. In response, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia announced their plans to impose their own bans on Ukrainian grain exports, which, according to Kachka, signals a significant lack of trust in the European Commission’s decisions.
He said: “For many years, it’s been the European Commission who is the trade negotiator and trade policy institution for the whole EU. And we used to work on on this basis.
“The systemic approach of Budapest and Warsaw of ignoring the position of the EU institutions in trade policy, I think that will be a problem for the EU in general, because there is no unity there.
”Kyiv will sue the countries at the World Trade Organisation — an international body — rather than via its own trade accord with the EU. “I think that all the world should see how member states in the EU behave towards trade partners and their own Union, because it can influence other states as well.”
The European Commission had initially imposed a temporary ban on the sale of Ukrainian grain in neighbouring countries, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. This measure was implemented to protect local farmers and allow markets to adapt to an influx of Ukrainian products, following Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. Ukraine had previously threatened legal action against the EU unless the ban was lifted.
However, following the Commission’s decision to end the ban, Warsaw, Budapest, and Bratislava decided to enact their own unilateral restrictions, prompting Ukraine’s strong response.
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