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Official: Poland holds informal talks with EU on exemptions for farmers

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 4, 2024 4:59 AM 1 min read
Polish farmers with tractors and vehicles block roads during a demonstration against the import of Ukrainian grain in Sulechow, Poland, on Feb. 20, 2024. (Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Warsaw is conducting informal negotiations with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on granting Polish farmers possible exemptions to the EU's Green Deal, Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Szejna said on March 3.

Polish farmers in February launched a new wave of protests against Ukrainian agricultural imports and environmental policy reforms in the European Green Deal. Ukraine's State Border Guard reported on March 3 that all six border crossings with Poland are now blocked by protesters.

Szejna confirmed to Polish media that informal talks with the EU are in process. He said Poland is looking for exemptions to EU regulations on "everything that is possible, both from the Green Deal and the influx of products that would cause a permanent disruption to the market of one or most countries."

Warsaw argues that the flow of cheaper Ukrainian products threatens the livelihoods of Polish farmers, a claim Kyiv denies. Poland has already instituted a ban on several Ukrainian products, including grain.

Szejna also warned that if it takes too long for the EU to accede to Poland's demands, disruptions at the border will continue.

"(W)e will introduce changes, we will introduce border blockades, barriers, and customs duties unilaterally," he said.

Poland and Ukraine are set to hold official talks in Warsaw on March 28. Szejna said that by the time of the meeting, "the issue of the problem at the border will no longer exist."

The ongoing protests threaten to strain Ukraine-Poland relations, with some demonstrators dumping Ukrainian crops and displaying anti-Ukrainian slogans.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on March 3 that the crisis on the Polish border "has gone beyond both economics and morality."

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