February 26, 2024

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European farmers take their tractors to Brussels to demonstrate at EU summit: blockades and clashes with police

European farmers take their tractors to Brussels to demonstrate at EU summit: blockades and clashes with police

A caravan of hundreds of angry farmers on large tractors arrived at EU headquarters on Thursday. They were determined to take their complaints about high costs, rules and bureaucracy to a meeting of EU leaders at a summit in Brussels.

After warming themselves over a fire of burning planks overnight, the farmers boarded their vehicles and entered the Belgian capital, breaking the morning peace after weeks of protests in several countries of the camp. .

Protesters from many countries travel to Brussels

While the EU summit is expected to focus on providing financial support to Ukraine for its war against Russia, the Belgian prime minister said farmers' demands could lead to an informal agenda for the 27 leaders. Alexander de Crewe.

Protesters from many countries travel to Brussels

“We also have to ensure that they get the right quality products at the right price. We also have to ensure that the administrative burden on them is reasonable.” said de Groove, whose country holds the presidency of the European Union.

In the absence of farmers' initiative, immediate concrete concessions are unlikely to be announced.

Thursday, Feb. Farmers warm themselves by a bonfire as they protest outside the European Parliament ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on January 1, 2024. EU leaders will meet in Brussels for a one-day summit to discuss support for Ukraine. (AP Photo/Umar Havana)

Jean-Francois RickerA farmer from southern Belgium spent the winter night near the EU headquarters and said 1,000 to 1,400 vehicles were expected. “There will be a lot of people (…) We're going to show that we don't agree, that's enough, but our intention is not to tear everything down.”

Most of the protesters are young farmers raising families and increasingly suffocated by pressures such as high energy costs, competition from cheap foreign products that don't meet strict EU rules, droughts, floods and crop-ruining inflation and climate change. fire

Protesters stand next to tractors in front of Gendarmerie vans and Berliot VXB-170 armored vehicles or VBRG (Vehicule Blinde a Roues de la Gendarmerie) on the A1 motorway near Chenivières-les-Louvres, near Rossiy-Charles-de Airport, Northeast Airport -WGa Paris

Over the past week, protests have been held in many parts of the European Union. Farmers blocked more roads in Belgium, France and Italy on Wednesday in an attempt to disrupt operations at major ports and other economic centers.

Although the growing signs of discontent are often silent, French police arrested 91 protesters who entered Europe's largest food market on Wednesday, Paris' police chief said.. Heavy vehicles blocked access to the large compound in Rungis, south of the French capital.

Farmers struggle. (Europe Press)

For now, security forces are conducting non-violent demonstrations as farmers arriving in Brussels on Thursday insist their protest will be peaceful.

The protests had an immediate effect on Wednesday when the European Commission, the EU executive, announced plans to protect farmers from cheap exports from wartime Ukraine and allow farmers to use land they should not be using for environmental concerns.

The plans still need approval from 27 member states and the European Parliament, but they were a sudden and symbolic concession.

“I want to assure you that we will do everything we can to listen to your concerns. The Vice-Chairman of the Commission said: “I think we are now addressing two of your most important concerns. Maroš Šefčovič.

Upon arrival at the summit, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the EU-Mercosur deal, currently in final negotiations, “cannot be ratified in its current form”.

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This way, Varadkar “echoes” a request made by French President Emmanuel Macron recently.Its government has expressed its determination that the EU should abandon negotiations with Mercosur under current conditions.

“This trade agreement cannot be ratified in its current form. “We cannot have a situation where we impose environmental restrictions on (European) farmers and allow imports from countries that do not have the same requirements,” the Irish prime minister said.

According to Varadkar, the leaders spoke last night at a dinner at the Council of Europe about the demands of farmers who have stepped up their protests in recent weeks in several EU countries such as Germany, France and Belgium.

Peasants strike in Europe

Leaders “understand the pressures on our farmers from rising fertilizer prices and energy costs, new environmental regulations (…) The next two years.” Irish politician noted.

The reasons for farmers' discontent are not expected to be formally addressed at today's European summit, which will focus on aid to Ukraine and the situation in Gaza.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron, while staying in Brussels, arrives at the summit with the intention of demanding a series of changes to agricultural policy, particularly fallow rules and the entry of Ukrainian products.

(With information from AP and EFE)