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Tractor protest paralyzes Brussels as EU agriculture ministers meet

26.02.2024 12:45
In a dramatic demonstration by farmers against European Union agricultural policies, several hundred tractors descended on the historic center of Brussels and the European quarter on Monday.

The protest, orchestrated by Via Campesina (ECVC), a collective representing small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises, coincided with a meeting of EU agriculture ministers at the EU Council building.

The protesters' grievances center on the EU's free trade agreements, notably with the Mercosur bloc countries—Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, according to reports.

They argue that such agreements, aimed at enhancing trade flows and reducing tariffs and quotas on agricultural products, unfairly disadvantage Western European farmers by introducing fierce competition.

Key demands from the protesting farmers include the EU's withdrawal from these trade agreements, the implementation of policies ensuring fair wages, and substantial changes to current EU agricultural policies.

Critics of the EU's stance, including ECVC, call for a reevaluation of proposals that they believe could limit the use of agricultural land within the EU and undermine the sector's viability.

Demonstrators set tires on fire near the European Commission headquarters and clashed with police at roadblocks, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

This marked the second such large-scale protest this year, following a similar demonstration on February 1, when over 1,000 tractors paralyzed the city during an EU summit.


Source: PAP, IAR