Member countries of the European Union Council have given the green light on Monday to extend the free trade of agricultural products with Ukraine, as well as with Moldova, for another year. However, from June 6 onwards, new restrictions will be implemented to safeguard EU markets.

The agreement ensures the continuation of free trade, suspending import duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural exports to the EU until June 5, 2025. This allows Ukraine to continue exporting food to the Union under more liberal rules. However, certain products – including eggs, poultry, honey, sugar, oats, corn, and groats – will be subject to quantity restrictions. These restrictions, advocated by countries like Poland and France, will be based on average figures from 2022-2023 and the first half of 2021.

Should significant market disruptions occur in any of the EU member states due to imports from Ukraine, such as wheat, the European Commission is prepared to take swift action and ‘implement any measures it deems necessary’. This is a new provision compared to the previous regulation, which allowed the EC to impose protective measures only if disturbances were seen across the entire single market.

The EU Council’s decision on Monday marks the conclusion of the legislative process regarding the free trade agreement with Ukraine. Previously, on April 23, the European Parliament had approved the regulation at its last session for this term.

The suspension of duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural products has been in place since June 2022. This measure was aimed at easing the difficult situation faced by Ukrainian producers due to the Russian invasion and the blockade of Black Sea ports, preventing a drastic decrease in Ukrainian trade volumes.

EU imports from Ukraine in 2023 totalled £19.5bn, compared to the pre-war level of £20.6bn in 2021.