EU extends Kiev’s duty-free access but imposes caps on produce to protect bloc’s farmers

Kiev’s duty-free access to bloc’s market will be extended but caps will be placed on items such as honey, eggs, sugar and poultry

EU lawmakers have reached an agreement to extend Kiev’s duty-free access to member states’ market but have decided to also introduce caps on a number of Ukrainian farm imports, the European Council announced on Monday.

The preliminary decision has been approved by EU ambassadors. The agreement will enter into force after it is approved by a European Parliament committee, which is set to meet on Tuesday.

According to the latest arrangement, the exemptions on tariffs initially granted to Kiev in 2022 after the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine will be extended for another year, until June 2025.

However, Brussels has also decided to “reinforce the protection of sensitive agricultural products” and has introduced “automatic safeguards” for oats, corn/maize, and groats, as well as produce like honey, eggs, poultry and sugar, to prevent cheap imports from flooding the EU market. 

Specifically, tariffs would be applied to the listed produce if imports of it exceed average levels of past years. The European Commission has also proposed extending this reference period to the second half of 2021, the year before the conflict broke out.

Previously, it was estimated that these new safeguards could potentially reduce Kiev’s earnings by some €240 million ($260 million) per year.

The decision to limit Ukrainian imports comes as farmers across Europe have been protesting for several months against the EU’s policies, which, agricultural workers say, are threatening their livelihoods.

After the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the European Commission lifted all duties and quotas on Ukrainian goods for a period of one year to allow its agricultural products to be shipped to global markets. However, these imports ended up flooding Eastern European countries, destabilizing markets

European farmers have complained that they simply cannot compete with cheap Ukrainian imports that are not subject to the same tariffs and regulations as EU-produced goods.