Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels


Due to the approximation to European standards in the field of food safety, Ukraine is becoming less and less exotic for the EU market. Thus, the implementation of the Association Agreement opens the way for those sectors of the economy, in which, through the successful coordination of key stakeholders, the political will of the government and MPs, as well as support of civil society, comprehensive European integration reforms are being implemented.

In this context, the phenomenon of Ukrainian butter is very revealing – in particular, the export of this product to the EU countries. Thus, during 2017, Ukraine supplied almost 3 thousand tons of butter to the EU countries, which is 4 times more than in the same period of 2016.

Ukraine’s export of this product to the EU only started in 2016, but for 11 months of 2017, it occupied 27% of the EU market, and this is the second position in the TOP-3 exporters of this product after the import leader – New Zealand.

At the same time, we should mention that the butter is that product line for which a quota is allocated (1.8 thousand tons for 2017). But last year’s exports will significantly exceed it, so most of the export was made without using quota preferences.

Of course, the lower price of Ukrainian butter in the EU market gave Ukraine an additional advantage over the other exporters. In addition, New Zealand’s position was weakened by natural disasters.

However, this “#victory” was the result of systematic work on adaptation of legislation in the field of sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS). How do these words explain the success of the butter? The answer is very simple. For EU countries, credibility is the extremely important issue in terms of the import of food products. In particular, it depends on equivalent to the European system of quality and safety of food products, which Ukraine introduces in accordance with the Association Agreement.

It is based on a number of technical (unpopular for politicians) and complex bills, the work on the development and adoption of which lasted several years. As a result, Ukraine gradually moves to EU standards on food safety and quality.

In particular, the basic principles of the European system of state control of food safety have already begun to work in Ukraine, thanks to the laws “On main principles of and requirements to safety and quality of foodstuffs” and “On the state control of compliance with legislation on food and feed products, animal health and well-being”. Also, a draft law on food safety and hygiene for farm animals has already been adopted, which harmonizes Ukrainian legislation with European legislation in the field of state control of feed safety. In addition, work on a bill on providing food information to consumers is currently underway – another commitment by Ukraine under the Association Agreement.

Of course, we must not forget that a number of agrarian campaigns have begun work on adapting their production standards to the requirements of EU legislation long before the Association Agreement has been signed. Otherwise, their access to the EU market would not be impossible. Therefore, the active position of the business significantly helped in fulfilling the requirements of Ukraine under the DCFTA.

However, the coordination of the actions of the government, the profile committee of the Parliament and the involvement of the NGOs in promoting the relevant legislation were extremely important.

Consequently, the sphere of SPS demonstrates the “effect of butter” on the EU market and is one of rare examples of effective implementation of the Agreement, despite all the difficulties and in the process of adopting the relevant legislation.

Therefore, the recipe for the success of butter can be considered as a recipe for the success of the entire scope of Ukraine’s obligations under the Association Agreement. Further – implementation of the developed legislation, which is extremely important for the further growth of export of other food products. So, the work on gaining in the EU market continues.

Author: Liubov Akulenko, Executive Director of the NGO “Ukrainian Centre for European Policy” (Ukraine).

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