Ukraine’s EU Entry Threatens Disaster for Polish Farmers, Warns Deputy Minister

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Ukraine’s admission to the EU could be perilous for the bloc’s agricultural sector, Warsaw’s deputy agriculture minister, Michal Kolodziejczak, told Polish broadcaster RMF FM on Saturday. His comments came in response to this week’s decision by the European Council to open accession talks with Kiev.

According to Kolodziejczak, Ukrainian farmers would create too much competition to the bloc’s established agricultural producers.

The agricultural sector in Ukraine has the potential to disrupt food security in any EU country, according to a high-ranking offical. If the EU were to open its doors to Ukraine, it would lead to an overflow of Ukrainian agricultural products, rendering Polish and other European farmers unemployed. This would be a result of Ukraine’s farming industry being too vast and efficient, making it impossible for local farmers to compete.

“Ukrainian agriculture is dominated by about 95 farms. Those are holdings which control half of the country’s farming lands … Within the current political and economic framework, [Ukraine’s admission”] would work against Polish farmers and Polish entrepreneurs,” he warned.

According to Kolodziejczak, Ukraine’s entry into the European Union should be accompanied by preemptive measures to safeguard the welfare of local agriculturalists.

“We must respect our interests, as, for example, Germany did when Poland joined the EU. At the time, the labor market for Poles was frozen for eight years. Today, we could suggest that agricultural products from Ukraine– both fresh and processed– would be prohibited from entering Poland, for example, 20 years after Ukraine joins the EU.”

Poland-Ukraine crossing blocked just hours after reopening
Ukraine and Poland have been at odds for the past several months due to a grain dispute between the countries. The conflict stemmed from Poland’s decision earlier this year to place an embargo on Ukrainian grain and only allow its transit through the country. This came amid a massive influx of cheap agricultural products from Ukraine over the past year after Brussels eased import rules for Kiev to help it export grain amid the conflict with Moscow.

Tensions escalated when Polish truckers and farmers took to blockading border crossings between Ukraine and Poland in early November, in response to the EU’s move to excuse Ukrainian truckers from needing permits to enter the bloc. The protesters claim that the EU’s actions have created an uneven playing field, leading to lower prices for agricultural products within the bloc and unfair competition.

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