Ukraine - an EU candidate country at war, the end of which is not yet in sight. In an online talk format, MEP and agricultural policy spokesperson of the EU Greens Martin Häusling and Viola von Cramon, MEP of the Greens and Deputy Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee as moderator, discussed the current situation in Ukraine with guests from science and politics on the status quo, perspectives and problems. Their expertise was contributed by: Dr Olga Trofimtseva, Special Representative in Food Security and Economic Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine; former Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Dr agr. Bettina Rudloff, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, researches trade and investment policy, resilience and critical infrastructure, and Prof. Dr Sebastian Lakner, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Rostock.
Screenshot of the start image of the film "Farming Organic in Ukraine".
Ukraine - an agricultural country with candidate status for EU accession
The agricultural area of Ukraine is about two and a half times the size of Germany. Before the start of the war, in 2020, there were 6.4 million people employed in agriculture in Ukraine, compared to around 0.6 million in Germany, and farms are giving up every day. Ukraine has been expressing its interest in joining the EU since the 1990s and on 28 February 2022, four days after the Russian war of aggression began, President Selenskyj made the official application for his country. Ukraine receives official candidate status to join the EU on 23 June 2022.
This raises the following agricultural policy questions in particular with regard to Ukraine's possible accession to the EU:
- What impact can Ukraine's accession be expected to have on EU agricultural policy?
- Can the EU's legal regulations be implemented for the candidate country?
- Can an agricultural model or the current one with hectare-based direct payments do justice
to all member states?
Recording on Youtube was provided by the office of Martin Häusling.
In his introductory remarks, Martin Häusling regretted that the solidarity of the EU Member States was crumbling and that some states were making life difficult for the country, which is dependent on exports, with import barriers and special tariffs. He appealed for the EU to agree as soon as possible to allow exports from Ukraine again, because the only one who would be happy about a split in the EU was Putin. As far as Ukraine's possible accession to the EU was concerned, the long overdue reform (abolition) of the area payments was due at the latest then with regard to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), because they were impossible due to the sheer size of the agricultural country.
Organic export growth despite war
Olga Trofimtseva (photo) described the situation of agriculture in her home country as surprisingly resilient but very serious. On the one hand, she said, agriculture is also in permanent survival mode; more than 120 farmers have already lost their lives in the course of their work, and there has been a loss of around 40 billion dollars. On the other hand, she said, export revenues have even increased from 44% pre-war levels, as the agricultural sector is virtually the only remaining producing sector. Trofimtseva referred to an article by Peter Jossi, published in BioPress(https://www.linkedin.com/posts/olga-trofimtseva-26013132_bio-ukraine-mutig-und-innovativ-activity-7054768433225195521-86xs?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop) It says: "According to an analysis by the Ukrainian certification body 'Organic Standard', based on figures from the EU database TRACES, Ukraine exported almost 226,000 tonnes of organic products to the EU and Switzerland in 2022, despite a 25% decline in land. This was a 13% increase compared to 2021." Trofimtseva stressed that she thinks her country's accession by 2030 is realistic if preparations start very concretely now.
At BioFach, the event 'Ukraine - One Year after the Start of the War - Innovative Strength of Organic Farms' was organised by EEPO and COA (German-Ukrainian Cooperation on Organic Agriculture). COA presented the film 'Ukraine 2023: Organic Agriculture one Year after the Beginning of the War. We go ahead!' which impressively shows the most important aspects of life and work of the diverse organic farms in Ukraine in 2022.
Geostrategic effects of EU accession
Dr. agr. Bettina Rudloff from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), researches trade and investment policy, resilience and critical infrastructure. At the event, she presented the global dimension of Ukraine's accession to the EU:
> the EU would become the world's dominant supplier of grain and oilseeds
> it would gain influence on the world market vis-à-vis large agricultural
Viola von Cramon, MEP Moderation consumers such as China and vis-à-vis more developed countries. Interventionist actors such as Argentina
> Ukraine is a strong support actor vis-à-vis countries with supply needs
> Contribution to own security of supply, as currently envisaged for greater
independence from imports
> Welfare effects through sales and investment options in Ukraine
but also increasing internal competitive pressure
> Budgetary and agricultural reform options must be prepared, as was already the case with the 2004 eastern enlargement (options such as phasing in direct payments, etc.).
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Lakner, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Rostock, Germany (photo), described preparations for Ukraine's accession in concrete terms:
> Possible establishment of a customs union (WTO?)
> Transfer of the control system (INVEKOS)
> Establishment of paying agencies (direct payments, but with what aim? Problems?)
> Adaptation of environmental legislation, cross-compliance, food law, food safety standards
> Establishment of funding lines for agri-environmental measures, organic farming, rural development?
Financial consequences for the agricultural budget?
Germany - Ukraine: Long, intensive cooperation
Already during the event "Sourcing Organic from Ukraine" in October 2016 at the Ökohaus in Frankfurt, Olga Trofimtseva, then new Vice-Minister at the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture, spoke about how she wants to be particularly involved in the expansion of organic agriculture and exports, but also in the refinement of raw materials and the further development of the domestic market.
Interview with Olga Trofimtseva in October 2016, Interview Karin Heinze, BiO Reporter International (formerly Bio-Markt.info)
Author: Karin Heinze, BiO Reporter International