The majority of Irish MEPs have approved trade support measures for Ukraine with protection for EU farmers during a plenary vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, however, voted against the extension of some temporary trade liberalisation measures for Ukraine.

With 428 votes in favour, 131 against and 44 abstentions, MEPs backed extending the suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural products until 5 June 2025, to support the country amid Russia’s continuing war of aggression.

Under the new regulation, the commission can take swift action and impose any measures it deems necessary should there be significant disruption to the EU market or the markets of one or more EU member states due to Ukrainian imports (eg, wheat).

As part of reinforced safeguard measures to protect EU farmers, the commission can trigger an emergency brake for particularly sensitive agricultural products, namely poultry, eggs, sugar, oats, groats, maize, and honey.

If imports of these products surpass the average of import volumes recorded in the second half of 2021, and all of 2022 and 2023, tariffs can be re-imposed. As part of the agreement on these new rules, the commission pledged to launch talks with Ukraine on permanent trade liberalisation soon, and keep the parliament closely engaged in the process.

Sandra Kalniete, rapporteur for the file said: ”The extension of trade support measures reaffirms the EU's solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. This vote will simultaneously strengthen the economic resilience of Ukraine and protect the interests of European farmers. We will keep our promises – we will support Ukraine until its military victory and accession to the EU and NATO.”

Next steps

Council will now have to formally approve the regulation. The current trade measures expire on 5 June 2024, and the new regulation should enter into force immediately following this date.