Nausėda welcomes EC proposals on duties on Russian grain, but urges not to stop

Asociatyvi nuotr.

President Gitanas Nausėda welcomes the European Commission's (EC) proposal on Friday to impose maximum tariffs on imports of Russian and Belarusian cereals into the European Union (EU), but urges the Commission to introduce tariffs on other agricultural products as well.  

„I welcome the Commission's proposals, which are certainly timely, but I would urge it not to stop there, to go one step further and introduce tariffs on other agricultural products,“ Nausėda told reporters in Brussels on Friday. 

„We have a very clear case of Russia deliberately attacking us with cheap grain in an attempt to destabilise our agricultural market, to create discontent among farmers and to cause political instability. Of course we must use the means to prevent this from happening," said the EU leader.

The European Commission proposed on Friday to increase import tariffs on grains, oilseeds and their products, including wheat, maize and sunflower meal, entering the EU from Russia Belarus. 

Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, no EU import duties have been applied to Russian agricultural exports until now.

„There are different groups of duties or import tariffs. If these tariffs are high in themselves, they simply make products unaffordable, uncompetitive, and this in effect makes them prohibitive," said Mr Nausėda. 

When the European Commission proposed on Friday to impose maximum tariffs on imports of Russian and Belarusian cereals into the European Union (EU), its vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said it would effectively stop them entering the Community market. 

The Vice-President said import tariffs would depend on the product in question. For example, common wheat should be subject to an import duty of €95 per tonne, durum wheat €148 and oilseeds a 50% import tariff. 

The Commission's proposal comes after Lithuania, along with Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, on Wednesday called on the EC to ban all grain imports into the EU from Russia and Belarus. The appeal was initiated by Lithuania.

The fact that Brussels is proposing to increase tariffs on Russian and Belarusian grain was announced by European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, at the end of the first day of the European Council (ECC).

Her statement came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky complained to EU leaders that it was wrong to allow unlimited imports of Russian grain into Europe and to restrict imports from Ukraine. 

The decision on the EC proposal will be taken by qualified majority by the EU Council after the Belgian presidency sets up a working group on customs duties. ]