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Poland, Ukraine negotiate temporary border closure to stabilise Polish market

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The Polish government is negotiating a temporary closure of its shared border with Ukraine so that Ukrainian agri-food production does not destabilize the Polish market anymore, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced on Wednesday, according to Euractiv.

As Polish farmers continue their protests against the increased influx of food from Ukraine, Tusk vowed to solve the issue by reaching an agreement with Kyiv so that Ukrainian agri-food production does not destabilise the Polish market anymore.

“One number shows the scale of the problem. There is well over 20 million tons of surplus grain in warehouses in Europe, and nine million tons of surplus in Poland,” Tusk told the press briefing.

He said his government was discussing with Ukraine the possibility of temporarily closing the border to trade, which he said was a legitimate but “painful solution for both sides.”

“Poland has a trade surplus with Ukraine, we sell much more to Ukraine than we receive from Ukraine,” he said.

Still, “some groups have different interests, some benefit from the fact that Ukraine can trade (with the EU) without customs duties, some earn a lot from it, but most lose a lot,” he added.

Tusk will discuss the solution with leaders of protesting farmers’ groups, including those blocking the border with Ukraine, at an agriculture summit he has called on Thursday.

He said he is ready to take resolute decisions regarding the Ukrainian border, “but always in agreement with Kyiv, to avoid unnecessary tensions.”

Last month, the European Commission decided to suspend import duties and quotas on Ukrainian exports to the EU until mid-2025, a move strongly opposed by Polish farmers.

“By liberalising trade with Ukraine, the European Commission has undermined the predictability of the whole European agricultural sector,” Andrzej Danielak, head of the Polish Union of Poultry Breeders and Producers, told Euractiv Poland.

On Tuesday, thousands of farmers gathered in Warsaw for a huge protest against the European Green Deal and increased imports from Ukraine.

Some called for Poland’s withdrawal from the EU while others called for a complete closure of Ukraine’s borders. Tusk rejected these demands.

“I am not the prime minister that would make Poland leave the European Union or block the border with Ukraine,” he stressed.

He said Poland was ready to discuss import quotas for Ukrainian food to the EU, although the ones proposed by Brussels were unacceptable to Poland.

“Quotas are a good solution, but they must be proportionate for all the countries so that we can avoid a situation in which the whole quotas enter the Polish market only,” Danielak said.

He agreed that the government needs to act in agreement with Kyiv and that radical decisions taken without consultation will do no good for either side.

“We as farmers would prefer the problem to be solved in a way that would leave both sides satisfied and not lead to escalating tensions between Warsaw and Kyiv,” he added.