Monday

26th Sep 2022

EU to help Ukraine export grain — amid food shortages fears

  • The Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports has prompted the EU to find alternative routes to prevent a major food crisis (Photo: Jon Bunting)
Listen to article

Emergency plans to help shift stranded wheat and grain in Ukraine's besieged ports were unveiled by the European Commission on Thursday (12 May) — amid fears that the war will create a global food crisis.

"Bringing more agricultural products on the world markets is crucial to address mounting global food insecurity resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its devastating consequences," the EU executive said in its proposal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Ukraine is one of the world's biggest exporters of agricultural goods, accounting for over 12 percent of the world's wheat, 15 percent of corn and 50 percent of sunflower oil, most of which are normally exported by sea.

But the Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports could result in the loss of tens of millions of tonnes of grain, triggering a major food crisis.

Nearly 40 million tonnes of grains are currently stuck in Ukraine and at least 20 million tonnes should be exported by the end of July using the EU infrastructure, according to commission estimates.

"This is a gigantesque challenge, so it is essential to coordinate and optimise the logistic chains, put in place new routes, and avoid, as much as possible, bottlenecks," said the EU commissioner for transport Adina Vălean.

Under the EU plan, alternative routes — also called "solidarity lines" — would be mainly organised by roads, rivers and channels. The idea is also to secure more capacity by temporary storage of Ukraine's exports in EU countries.

To transport such big volumes of agricultural goods, the EU executive has called on operators to make additional vehicles available, prioritise Ukrainian agricultural export through freight corridors and make available the necessary rail slot for such exports.

It also called on companies to urgently transfer mobile grain loaders to the relevant border terminals in order to speed up transhipment.

A dedicated platform would be also set up to organise transport operations between Ukraine and EU member states and optimise cargo flows. National authorities have been told to apply the "maximum flexibility" at border crossing points to accelerate procedures.

The EU Commission will also look into financial guarantees for companies to insure the trucks and vehicles sent into Ukraine and compensate them for potential losses.

Thousands of railway vehicles and lorries are currently stuck on the Ukrainian side, with good wagons facing long waiting times of up to 30 days at some EU-Ukraine border crossing points.

Differing rail gauge widths, which make Ukrainian wagons incompatible with rail networks in most EU member states, was identified by the EU Commission as one of the main obstacles to the re-routing of Ukrainian exports.

But the EU Commission has pledged to improve the existing infrastructure between the EU and Ukraine and create new corridors connecting the EU to Ukraine and Moldova as part of its efforts to support the reconstruction of Ukraine.

EU urged to grow more wheat to avert food crisis

European agriculture ministers have called for higher domestic farm output, amid food security worries, and a looming food crisis in Africa. Many African countries, eg Benin, Egypt, Sudan, Madagascar, and Burundi, are almost entirely, or exclusively, dependent on Ukrainian grain.

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

EU seeks to ease Ukraine export woes

The EU wants to expand its so-called 'solidarity lanes' to help Ukraine exports its goods towards member states. EU officials briefing reporters say around 2.6 million tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural goods were exported via such lanes in August.

Opinion

How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.

EU sanctions hamstrung by threat to food security

The EU has lifted some restrictions on the trade and financing of Russian coal and chemical to avoid an energy and food security crisis in poorer countries, but the upcoming ban on oil may have an even deeper impact.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us