Farmers escalate protests at EU Summit, demanding support
Farmers from across Europe converged on Brussels, blockading the city with approximately 1,000 tractors to demand the European Union leaders address their grievances regarding taxes, rising costs, and competition from cheap imports. The protest saw eggs hurled at the European Parliament, fires ignited nearby, and fireworks set off, highlighting the farmers' frustration.
The demonstrators, including Belgian farmers and those from other EU countries, displayed banners such as "If you love the earth, support those who manage it" and "No farmers, no food," emphasizing their critical role in food production. Amidst the heavy security presence, farmers voiced their challenges, including insufficient pay, burdensome taxes, stringent environmental regulations, and unfair international competition.
Despite securing some concessions like proposals from the EU Commission to limit farm imports from Ukraine and relax environmental rules on fallow lands, and France's decision to halt cuts to agricultural diesel subsidies, farmers argue these measures are inadequate. The protests, which have spread to Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, coincide with European Parliament elections where agricultural concerns are increasingly significant.
The farmers' crisis, though not officially on the EU summit's agenda, is expected to be a topic of discussion, especially with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has expressed support for representing European farmers' interests over Ukraine's. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar have acknowledged the farmers' plight, advocating for fair compensation for their high-quality products and expressing opposition to the Mercosur trade deal with South American countries in its current form.
The widespread protests have impacted the transportation and logistics sectors, with companies reporting significant revenue losses due to delays and disruptions caused by the blockades.