Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk resigned from his post Wednesday over what he said was the European Commission’s draft decision to extend duty-free and quota-free imports of grain from Ukraine into member states until June 2024.
“Since it is very clear that the basic postulate of farmers will not be met by the European Commission, I have made a decision and resigned from the function of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,” Kowalczyk said in a statement.
Farmers in countries neighboring Ukraine, including Poland, have expressed concerns about the effects of increased imports of Ukrainian grain on their grain prices, the European Commission said in a statement in March.
Last week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urged EU leaders to use “all instruments” to “limit the impact" of the influx of Ukrainian grain on the markets of Ukraine's neighboring countries.
In Kowalczyk’s resignation statement, he said that the Polish government — along with those of Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria — had submitted a request on Friday to the European Commission to “activate the protection clause in the field of duty-free and quota-free imports of grain from Ukraine.”
“However, the European Commission has published a draft extension of duty-free and quota-free imports of cereals from Ukraine for another year, which is to apply from June 2023 to June 5, 2024,” he continued.
Last month, the European Commission proposed a support measure worth 56.3 million euros (around $61.3 million) for Bulgarian, Polish and Romanian farmers to compensate them “for the economic loss due to increased imports of cereals and oilseeds.”
Speaking in Warsaw on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that a solution had been found on “the issue of our farmers.”
“I believe that in the coming days and weeks we will finally resolve all the issues because there can be no questions, no difficulties between such close partners and real friends as Poland and Ukraine," he said.