The European Union is preparing €100 million ($109.32 million) in compensation for farmers in five countries bordering Ukraine and plans to introduce restrictions on imports of Ukrainian grains.
Pressure has mounted on Brussels to work out a European Union-wide solution after Warsaw and Budapest banned some imports from Ukraine at the weekend and other eastern Europe countries said they were considering similar action.
The countries became transit routes for Ukrainian grain that could not be exported by sea because of Russia's invasion.
Bottlenecks then led to the grain becoming trapped, forcing local farmers to compete with an influx of cheap Ukrainian imports they said lowered the value of their own crops.
Emergency 'Preventive Measures'
The European Commission said on Wednesday it would take emergency "preventive measures" for wheat, maize, sunflower seeds and rape seed after a joint complaint from Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia at the end of March.
An EU official said this would only allow the grains to enter the five countries from Ukraine if they were set for export to other EU countries or to the rest of the world. This measure would last until the end of June.
Separately, the European Commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation European Union, plans an investigation into whether measures are required for other sensitive products.
While the emergency measures can enter force within days, an EU investigation typically lasts six months.
European trade commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis, discussed the plans later on Wednesday with ministers from the affected countries - Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia - as well as with Ukrainian counterparts.
Under the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement of 2016, imports of the most sensitive farm products from Ukraine were subject to tariffs and quotas. The EU agreed to suspend all tariffs last year until June 2023 and the Commission has proposed extending this suspension for another year.
Poland, which is especially under pressure from its agricultural lobby in an election year, banned all grain imports, but agreed to allow grain to transit after discussions with Kyiv.
News by Reuters, edited by ESM – your source for the latest supply chain news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.