Europe’s farmers under pressure: Hungary slams EU’s decision to extend duty-free exemption for Ukrainian grain

Hungary maintains its national import ban on Ukrainian grain to protect its farmers

By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

In a move that will leave farmers in the lurch across Europe, the European Parliament on Tuesday voted by a large majority to extend the duty-free import of Ukrainian agricultural products for another year. The move was criticized by Hungarian Agriculture Minister István Nagy.

The minister pointed out that Brussels, while continuing to support Ukraine, was actively harming farmers.

The European Parliament decided on Tuesday to extend the suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural products until June 5, 2025.

In the case of poultry, eggs and sugar, the decision capped duty-free imports at the average of the last three years, effectively conserving the extraordinary surge in imports in recent years. A bigger problem is that there is no limit at all for cereals and oil seeds. 

If the trends seen in the first three months of the year continue, imports of maize and wheat from Ukraine to the EU will exceed the record volumes of 2022 and 2023. This will have unforeseeable consequences for EU farmers, as European and Hungarian farmers will not be able to compete with the hundreds of thousands of hectares of Ukrainian farms owned by international capital oligarchs, which produce under far less strict standards than required by EU farmers, raising safety concerns about pesticides and questionable production methods.

“Brussels is continuing to cause an agricultural crisis, funding war instead of supporting European farmers,” Nagy said, adding that the Hungarian government will maintain the import ban introduced under its national jurisdiction, but Brussels must also act.

“The fact that a majority of left-wing, socialist, liberal, green, and EPP MEPs voted in favor of the proposal clearly shows that Brussels needs to change. A new (EU) leadership must be elected on June 9 that does not put the interests of third countries before its own farmers and that can take real action to protect European farmers,” the Hungarian agricultural minister said.

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