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Sunday, June 16, 2024

EU Parliament Votes to Extend Trade Support for Ukraine, Bolstering Farmers’ Protection

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In a resounding show of solidarity, the European Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly endorsed the extension of temporary trade liberalization measures for Ukraine, while fortifying safeguards to shield EU farmers. With a commanding 428 votes in favor, 131 against, and 44 abstentions, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) backed the prolongation of the suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural products for an additional year, until June 5, 2025. This move aims to bolster Ukraine amidst Russia’s relentless aggression, which continues to ravage the nation.

Under the new regulation, the European Commission gains enhanced authority to swiftly impose necessary measures in the event of significant disruption to the EU market or the markets of its member states due to Ukrainian imports, particularly focusing on commodities like wheat. To reinforce safeguard measures for EU farmers, the Commission retains the ability to activate an emergency brake for select agricultural products, including poultry, eggs, sugar, oats, groats, maize, and honey. Tariffs can be reinstated if imports of these products exceed the average import volumes recorded in the second half of 2021 and throughout 2022 and 2023.

As part of the agreement, the Commission commits to initiating discussions with Ukraine on permanent trade liberalization and ensuring close parliamentary engagement in the process.

Speaking on the significance of the vote, Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV), rapporteur for the file, emphasized, “The extension of trade support measures reaffirms the EU’s solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. This vote will simultaneously strengthen the economic resilience of Ukraine and protect the interests of European farmers. We will keep our promises – we will support Ukraine until its military victory and accession to the EU and NATO.”

The regulation now awaits formal approval from the Council. With the current trade measures set to expire on June 5, 2024, the new regulation is slated to come into effect immediately thereafter.

Since 2016, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, alongside the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, has granted Ukrainian businesses preferential access to the EU market. Following Russia’s initiation of hostilities, the EU introduced autonomous trade measures (ATMs) in June 2022, facilitating duty-free access for all Ukrainian products to the EU. These measures were extended in 2023, and in January, the EU Commission proposed their renewal for an additional year with supplementary safeguards to safeguard the EU market. Recent parliamentary decisions also saw similar measures extended for Moldova, further underlining the EU’s commitment to supporting its Eastern European partners.

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