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14 June, 2024
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Farmers protest outside European Parliament over taxes and imports

Approximately 1,300 tractors blockading major city routes


In a fervent display of frustration, angry farmers ignited fires outside the European Parliament building in Brussels today, venting their grievances against taxes, escalating costs, and the influx of cheap imports.

According to a Sky News report, the tumultuous scene witnessed approximately 1,300 tractors blockading major city routes, disrupting daily life as police scrambled to estimate the extent of the disruption.

Amidst the chaos, banners adorned with powerful messages such as "if you love the Earth, support those who manage it" and "no farmers, no food" waved defiantly, embodying the farmers' fervent plea for recognition and support. Eggs hurled at the European Parliament building underscored the depth of their discontent, as officers in riot gear stood guard, bracing for potential escalation.

Tensions peaked as tear gas and water hoses were deployed to quell the crowds attempting to breach barriers near the parliament. The farmers' fury stemmed from perceived injustices, citing burdensome taxes and stringent environmental regulations that jeopardize their livelihoods and allege unfair competition from foreign markets.

Kevin Bertens, a local farmer, echoed the sentiments of many, emphasizing the indispensable role of agriculture in sustaining communities. "If you see with how many people we are here today, and if you see it's all over Europe, so you must have hope," Bertens expressed, advocating for recognition of farming's vital significance.

Despite the tumult, farmers have achieved some concessions, including EU proposals to restrict agricultural imports from Ukraine and relax environmental regulations concerning fallow lands. In France, ongoing protests prompted the government to pledge increased aid and abandon plans to gradually diminish subsidies on agricultural diesel.

The wave of discontent reverberates across Europe, with farmers mobilizing in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. Although farming concerns were initially sidelined during EU leaders' discussions centered on aid for Ukraine, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo acknowledged the urgency of addressing the crisis.

"We also need to make sure that they can get the right price for the high-quality products that they provide," De Croo asserted, emphasizing the need to alleviate administrative burdens on farmers.

As Europe braces for upcoming parliamentary elections in June, the rise of far-right factions, which resonate increasingly with disillusioned farmers, looms prominently. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, aligning with protesting farmers, called for new leaders to champion the populace's interests, signaling a seismic shift in political dynamics.

In the wake of these protests, European leaders face mounting pressure to reassess agricultural policies and champion the welfare of farmers whose resilience sustains the continent's agricultural landscape.

[With information sourced from Sky News]

Cyprus  |  farmers  |  protests  |  Europe  |  taxes

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