'Nothing's Happening': Poland Has No Fear of Consequences for Its Blockade of Ukrainian Agricultural Imports

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Poland has no fear of repercussions from the European Union or the World Trade Organisation (WTO) following its decision to unilaterally impose a ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products.

"We would like not to implement unilateral solutions – we would be happier that the EU does it, which would be the true EU solidarity approach – but we were forced to introduce the decision unilaterally to protect our farmers,"  Robert Telus, Polish Agriculture Minister, said in an interview with Euractiv.

Telus believes there are "no substantive arguments" for not extending the ban.

He claimed that the European Commission's decision was "strictly political".

Telus made this comment on the sidelines of a meeting of EU agriculture ministers after Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced unilateral restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports effective 15 September, although the European Commission had decided not to extend the ban on Ukrainian imports to five EU countries.

Asked whether he was concerned about the consequences of this step for Poland, which is probably in breach of EU law as the EU has exclusive competence in the field of trade, the minister said he was not.

"Nothing happens," Telus believes.

He added that if he is doing "good things" for Polish and EU farmers, he "cannot be afraid of regulations which go in the wrong direction".

Similarly, Telus is not concerned about any potential consequences at the WTO level, as he believes there is "no legal basis" for such a move.

"What I hear is that Poland would be sued for supporting their farmers, but this is ridiculous," he said, adding he "does not understand what the legal basis for this suing would be".:

Earlier, Ukraine officially submitted requests for consultations with Slovakia, Poland and Hungary within the WTO.

In response, the Polish and Slovak authorities stated that they would not lift their unilateral restrictions on imports of agricultural products from Ukraine after the latter lodged a complaint at the WTO.

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