There are currently temporary (one-year) trade measures in place between the EU and Ukraine, introduced in May 2022, which allow all Ukrainian exports duty-free access to the EU market. This was in response to Russian aggression, which caused major losses and disruption to the Ukrainian economy, leading to a significant reduction in export earnings, particularly in agriculture.
A few days ago, three EU Member States neighbouring Ukraine (Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) decided to temporarily suspend these Ukrainian agricultural exports to their territory. This decision has already been contested by the European Commission, which has exclusive competence for EU trade policy.
The timing of this trade “spat” is probably not accidental, as in the coming days the EU will decide on a further one-year extension of trade liberalisation between the EU and Ukraine. In parallel, Russia is abusing its position to inspect merchant ships on the Black Sea, through which Ukrainian grain is exported. Russia has thus de facto stopped Ukrainian agricultural exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports. This is why it is so forced that these exports are also being made through the territory of neighbouring EU countries.
Russia’s aim and objective is to exploit internal conflicts within the EU between individual Member States, and also within individual countries between governments and interest groups (large farmer lobbies), so that existing EU trade aid to Ukraine is not extended.The Czech Government should actively explain this context to Czech citizens. Primarily that Russia is the main and only culprit in the current situation. At the same time, it is also worth focusing on the positive impact of Ukrainian exports, because, for example, in the area of agricultural production, they are creating healthy competitive pressure on EU producers, which should also lead to a reduction in the prices of agricultural products and thus overall inflation.