Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeE.U.Farmers continue mass protests across Europe ahead of EU summit

Farmers continue mass protests across Europe ahead of EU summit

The French government sent armoured vehicles to protect a wholesale food market in Paris on Wednesday, signalling an escalation in tensions over mass protests.

Farmers blocked motorways in France and Belgium and protests spread across Europe.

Spanish and Italian farmers have said they are joining a protest movement spreading across Germany that aims to force governments to relax environmental rules and protect them from rising prices and cheap imports.

With all eyes fixed on a summit of EU leaders scheduled for Thursday, the bloc’s executive commission has made proposals to restrict agricultural imports from Ukraine and relax some environmental rules.

However, these measures are unlikely to appease the anger of farmers, who have vowed to continue blocking motorways and ports until all their demands are met. Arnaud Rousseau, head of France’s powerful FNSEA union, said:

What is happening at the moment stems from the accumulation of rules that at first you accept… till it becomes too much.

While the protests so far have been largely peaceful – although French farmers have poured liquid manure on local prefecture buildings and set tyres on fire – police arrested 18 people in Wednesday’s confrontation.

Those arrested were driving tractors and trying to block a wholesale food market in Rungis in Paris, which is a hub for produce shipments to France and beyond. Until now, police have allowed farmers to block motorways without intervening.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin warned that if farmers’ protests on motorways were tolerated, police would not allow farmers to block airports or the Rungis market. In total, he said, there are about 100 blockades.

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