MEPs: ‘Our farmers must not pay the price of war’
In their statement signed on behalf of Hungary by ruling Fidesz’s Eniko Gyori and Erno Schaller-Baross, the MEPs referred to the vote of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) approving a one-year extension of the suspension of import tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural products including grain to the European Union.
“Our countries fully stand by Ukraine and provide all the necessary support in these difficult times, but this cannot mean that our farmers pay the price of the war,” they said, noting that they abstained in Thursday’s vote on the prolongation of the Ukrainian trade liberalisation measures (ATM).
“By our abstention, we are giving a chance to our Member States and the Commission to finalise their negotiations and get a deal that is acceptable for our countries. Only a prolonged ATM could provide the necessary legal basis for the Commission to activate the exceptional safeguard measures. However, for the moment, we have not been offered guarantees by the Commission. We are calling on the Commission to find a solution for our Member States’ problem as soon as possible and save the harvest of our farmers for 2023. Our trust is there. It is time the Commission delivers,” they said.
In a separate statement sent to MTI by Fidesz’s EP group, Eniko Gyori said the fact that not only the governments of Ukraine’s EU neighbours but their MEPs had “taken joint action against the untenable situation” of their farmers sent a “strong message”, and she expressed hope that the EU “will not let them down”.
Schaller-Baross said some had abused the so-called solidarity corridors opened for the transit of Ukrainian agricultural goods to third non-EU countries that are struggling with food shortages. “But the reality is that grain exports from Ukraine to these countries dropped last year compared with 2021 while they increased considerably to countries neighbouring Ukraine which has seriously upset their domestic markets, Hungary’s included,” he said. Schaller-Baross said that maize imports from Ukraine increased by close to 7,000 percent and wheat by 100 percent last year compared with 2021.