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Politico: EU ambassadors stumble on Ukraine trade deal extension

This setback risks overshadowing the upcoming EU summit, where leaders had hoped to reaffirm their united backing for Ukraine.
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Politico: EU ambassadors stumble on Ukraine trade deal extension

European ambassadors have failed to endorse a decision to extend trade liberalization measures for Ukraine for another year, Politico reports citing two unnamed European diplomats and one EU official. 

This failure could mar the upcoming EU summit on 21 March, where leaders aim to renew their support for Kyiv while being mindful of powerful constituents, such as farmers, who could influence the June European election.

The provisional deal, which was supposed to be approved by EU ambassadors, expanded import caps to include four additional agricultural products and required the EU executive to act more swiftly in case of a surge in imports. However, several countries requested more time to assess the agreement’s impact.

To Ukraine’s relief, EU negotiators decided against extending the 2022-2023 reference period for calculating the caps to include 2021, when imports from Ukraine were significantly lower. However, this was a red line for Paris, according to French Agricultural Minister Marc Fesneau, who stated that solidarity with Ukraine should not come “at the cost of excessive destabilization” of European markets.

In a separate vote, the European Parliament’s trade committee approved the compromise.

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