Slovakia is ready to extend the ban on the import of agricultural commodities from Ukraine if the European Commission does not find a suitable way to deal with the surplus of Ukrainian grain in Europe. This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Richard Takáč, after the meeting of the EU Council for Agriculture and Fisheries in Brussels.
Richard Takáč clarified that before the meeting of the Council of Ministers, he met with the first vice-president of the Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechovský, and he also used his first working stay in Brussels for negotiations with departmental partners from the countries of the Visegrad Group and Austria, as well as from countries neighboring Ukraine .
“During the negotiations with Wojciechovský, I brought up the topic that next year we will celebrate 20 years since joining the EU, and Slovakia is not yet balanced in convergence, in direct payments, with other member countries. We are at a level of around 82 percent, and the European Commissioner recognized that this is a problem,” Richard Takáč described the situation. He added that he assured the commissioner that the process of digitization and transparency at the Agricultural Payment Agency will continue in an effort to transform this agency into a modern institution of the 21st century.
Import of Ukrainian grain to the EU
At the same time, the minister specified that the topic of importing Ukrainian grain into the EU resonated across all meetings. This topic was not the subject of official negotiations, but everyone addressed it during individual meetings. According to Richard Takáč, this is a big problem from the point of view of Slovakia, which otherwise supports the transport of Ukrainian grain through transit corridors to third countries.
“The reality is that these commodities remain in the EU, and Slovakia uses roughly one-third of its land to grow cereals and sell them to Western European countries. We are threatened that these markets will be occupied by some suppliers of cheaper wheat grown under different conditions in Ukraine,” he explained.
He pointed out that this could be a problem, because what is Slovakia supposed to do with roughly 500,000 hectares of land if it loses the opportunity to export grain. Cultivation of vegetables, fruit or fodder for farm animals will only marginally solve the cultivation of this area.
Prolongation of the ban
“With great probability, I will submit to the government a proposal to extend the ban on imports that we have until the end of the year. We don’t like to do these things, but the European Commission has to come up with some proposed solutions. I also talked about this with Wojciechowski in order to find a joint solution to the fact that Ukrainian commodities are placed on the common market,” he said.
When asked how long he would like to extend this ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural commodities and whether he is consulting with other countries neighboring Ukraine, he said that these countries must maintain a unified position. He added that it is premature to talk about deadlines, but it may take until the European Commission finds a solution acceptable to all.
Kyiv has denied reports that Ukraine has suspended shipping through the grain corridor