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Poland Won’t Reopen its Border to Ukrainian Grain Imports, PM Says

Poland will not reopen its border to Ukrainian grain imports regardless of what the European Commission decides this week, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday.

Imports of Ukrainian grain, including wheat and maize, are currently banned from the territory of five eastern EU countries — including Poland, Hungary and Romania — under a deal struck with Brussels earlier this year. Only transit to other destinations is allowed. The restrictions expire on Friday and the Commission has yet to decide whether to let them lapse or extend them.

“Poland will not allow Ukrainian grain to flood us. Whatever the decision of Brussels officials, we will not open our borders,” Morawiecki said in a message on the X platform, formerly Twitter.

The Polish government adopted a formal resolution on Tuesday calling on the EU executive to extend the ban and warning that Warsaw would impose a unilateral ban if this did not happen.

The move would violate the bloc’s common trade rules and is not the first time Warsaw has threatened to do so. The issue of cheaper Ukrainian products flooding the Polish market as a result of Russia’s war of aggression has proved divisive ahead of Poland’s national elections in October.

With farmers protesting the influx of Ukrainian grain, which they view as a threat to their livelihoods, the lapsing of the deal could have political consequences for the conservative government led by Morawiecki’s Law and Justice (PiS) party.

PiS has seized on the issue as one of its key election slogans. Morawiecki’s message came in response to a video highlighting how the PiS government is putting the interests of Polish farmers first.

With most EU countries opposed to the import restrictions, Poland’s EU agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, has stepped up efforts to get them extended. If the restrictions are lifted, he warned recently, “we will have another big crisis in the five front line member states. Maybe even bigger than before.”

Local market analysts, however, argue that there is no evidence to suggest this would be the case.

“Global grain prices, and consequently prices in Poland, are significantly lower, and the local supply is large enough that companies are not interested in importing from Ukraine,” said one analyst, Mirosław Marciniak, earlier this week.

Kyiv has threatened to go to the World Trade Organization if the ban stays in force. It’s not clear whether Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will address the issue in her annual State of the Union speech on Wednesday. EU diplomats will meet again on Friday — the day the ban is due to expire — meaning that discussions may go to the last minute.