The European Commission (EC) and six countries including Poland, issued a joint declaration on Friday announcing EUR 1 billion in support for Ukrainian agricultural exports, including grain.
The declaration was signed by the EC, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine together with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank.
“As part of the European Union’s response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the European Commission and bordering EU Member States established on 12 May 2022 the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes,” the joint declaration read. “The Solidarity Lanes are essential corridors for Ukraine’s agricultural exports, as well as the export and import of other goods.”
The document highlighted the fact that Russia has deliberately targeted agricultural production and exports and has blocked safe routes to and from Ukrainian Black Sea ports. This has caused global grain prices to increase and caused food insecurity worldwide, threatening food supplies to millions of people, the declaration stated.
Consequently, the European Union is urgently earmarking EUR 250 million in grants to reinforce the Solidarity Lanes. The EC and member states are also taking action to streamline border crossings from Ukraine and shortly EUR 50 million will be invested from the bloc’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to increase the lanes’ capacity.
The EIB will also invest EUR 300 million by the end of 2023 in projects supporting the aims of the Solidarity Lanes and the EBRD will provide a further EUR 300 million and the World Bank EUR 100 million in 2023.
The declaration pointed out that Ukraine is a major grain producer, providing around 45 million tonnes a year and that since their inception, the Solidarity Lanes have assisted in the export of over 15 million tonnes of grain, oilseeds and related products.
“In addition, since August, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has helped relaunch grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, thereby further reducing food prices globally,” the declaration said.
“The Solidarity Lanes are currently the only option for the export of all other, non-agricultural Ukrainian goods to the rest of the world and for importing all the goods it needs, such as fuel and humanitarian assistance,” the document continued. “As such, the Solidarity Lanes have become the lifeline of Ukraine’s economy, bringing back more than EUR 15 billion of much-needed income to Ukrainian farmers and businesses.”
“As bordering EU Member States, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, have made tremendous efforts and investments to facilitate these trade routes,” the declaration said.
However, as the Solidarity Lanes are reaching the limits of their capacity and logistics costs are high, “we have been mobilising significant investments through various existing EU and national programmes,” it added.
Commenting on the situation of Ukrainian grain exports, Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, said the Kremlin sought to “saddle the West with blame for the food crisis that it has provoked and orchestrated to pressurise us into lifting sanctions.”
“We cannot give in to Russian blackmail,” Morawiecki said in video material published in connection with the joint declaration.
The prime minister said Russia had systematically weaponised food security, deliberately destroying reserves, and that using hunger as a weapon was reminiscent of the darkest days of Soviet history.