Europe’s Farmers Protests: Rising Prices and EU Measures
By Paul Kirby, Adam Easton in Warsaw & Nick Thorpe in Budapest
Farmers Protest Across Europe
Europe’s farmers have intensified their protests against increasing prices and EU measures. Demonstrations and road blockades have taken place in Poland, Hungary, Spain, and Belgium.
Polish and Hungarian farmers are specifically protesting against the European Union’s insufficient action to stop cheap imports from Ukraine, which are undercutting local produce. The farmers are demanding the restoration of a permit requirement for Ukrainian truckers to work across the EU. In Poland, about 1,400 tractors participated in a protest in Poznan, and roads were blocked throughout the country. Tractors also blocked traffic in several Spanish regions for four consecutive days.
Protests in Hungary
Hungarian farmers joined the protests for the first time, demonstrating against cheap Ukrainian imports that are undermining their markets. They expressed solidarity with farmers in other European countries. Hungarian agriculture expert Csaba Juhasz estimated that medium-sized farms have experienced an average loss of €300 per hectare due to the planted wheat. Hungarian farmers share common concerns with their counterparts, including high fertilizer prices and cheap imports of Ukrainian grain, dairy products, eggs, and meat.
In Belgium, around 600 farmers gathered in Genk, where an EU ministerial meeting was taking place. They demanded equal footing for all European farmers instead of being burdened by climate and environment targets.
Impact of EU Policies
Spain’s Road Closures
Spanish farmers blocked roads in several areas, causing traffic congestion in major cities. Tractors marched to the centers of Bilbao and Pamplona, while a motorway in Toledo was brought to a halt. Agriculture unions in the Basque country criticized EU policies, while the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, called for peaceful protests without intimidation or violence.
Challenges in Greece
Greek farmers are demanding lower electricity prices, tax-free diesel, subsidized animal feed, and changes to EU environmental regulations. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to meet with leaders of the farmers’ unions, but the government insists that roads must remain open. The prime minister’s spokesman emphasized the importance of balancing the right to protest and the rights of others.
Italy’s Farmers Rally
Italian farmers planned to read out a statement at the Sanremo song festival and organized a tractor parade around Rome’s motorway ring road. However, a large tractor rally in Piazza San Giovanni was cancelled to avoid public inconvenience. Farmers in Italy are critical of “ideological” EU rules and the elimination of an income tax break in this year’s budget.
Despite the challenges, Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida assured the farmers that the government supports them on most issues.
Read More of this Story at www.bbc.com – 2024-02-09 18:58:45
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