Warsaw braces for confrontation with EU over ban on Ukrainian grain – media

Other bloc members may sanction Poland if it delivers on its threat to reimpose trade sanctions, according to reports

Polish officials are concerned that individual EU member states may retaliate against Warsaw if it proceeds with plans to exclude Ukrainian grain from its market in breach of the bloc’s policies, local media have reported.

Up to 20 of the union’s 27 member states oppose the extension of the current EU-endorsed ban on the importation of some Ukrainian products by five nations that border the country, RFM radio reported on Saturday.

Brussels imposed the measure at the request of Poland, along with Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. These countries want the ban to remain in place until at least the end of the year, rather than expiring on September 15.

Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus stated last month that if the EU fails to accede to this request, his government would impose a unilateral ban instead. Warsaw did this in April, before the European Commission reluctantly backed the policy the following month.

Sources cited by RFM said the Polish authorities were concerned about the prospect of unilateral retaliation by countries such as Germany, which would likely be imposed more quickly than an equivalent response by the European Commission.

Romania does not want confrontation, one source suggested. If the other border countries concede and only Poland and Hungary reintroduce the ban, Brussels would pull no punches in its response, according to the outlet.

The five nations were also involved in talks with the Commission and Ukraine over possible EU subsidies for grain transit, Polish Radio reported on Saturday. Brussels could reportedly spend up to €30 ($32.60) per ton of grain to boost the profitability of Ukrainian exports.

The proposed measure is aimed at keeping Ukrainian exports profitable despite transportation costs. Poland and its allies are seeking to tie the subsidies to the continuation of restrictions on imports, the outlet said.

The EU lifted import tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian products last year to support its war effort against Russia. The cheap grain caused turmoil in Eastern European markets and sparked mass protests by farmers.

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