Ukraine: for the president of the EBRD, “improving the country’s resilience is essential”

The sight of a column of angry farmers’ tractors has a dramatic effect on the political commitments of the countries of the European Union, and in particular of the French and the Poles. After pushing to review community commitments on environmental matters, fear of an agricultural uprising is pushing these two countries, and some others, to also review their promises to Ukraine.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers. EU imposes restrictions on agricultural products from Ukraine

On Wednesday, March 20, Member States and the European Parliament agreed on a limit on the duty-free entry of Ukrainian agricultural products (chicken, eggs, corn, sugar, oats, honey, cereals, etc.). Beyond 2022-2023 production, they will be taxed as before. To compensate, a new tax will affect grain imports from Russia and Belarus.

These new provisions, already considered insufficient by the French Minister of Agriculture, should come into force on June 6 on the occasion of the renewal of the free trade agreement signed with Ukraine in the context of the war. Aid to a devastated economy has limits: that of competition, which European farmers criticize even more because they believe their counterparts benefit too much from foreign financial aid. Thus, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has granted nearly 890 million euros in loans since 2022 to producers, exporters and importers in the Ukrainian agri-food sector. Unfair competition?

“Our financing is not donations”

“The reality is more complex, responds Odile Renaud-Basso, president of the EBRD. The crisis in prices of agricultural raw materials after the start of the war showed that the world needs Ukrainian producers. We help them export to other global markets and we also support agribusiness in the European countries where we invest. Furthermore, our funding is not donations. These are loans at market rates. »

This rather discreet institution, created in 1991 under French leadership to help the development of Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is projected under the media spotlight. It must be said that, although it is much smaller than the European Investment Bank or the World Bank, in two years it has become the main institutional lender to Ukrainian companies. A way to support the country’s war effort.

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