At least a thousand tractors have arrived in Brussels from different parts of Europe to try to block the city where this Thursday the heads of State and Government of the European Union meet in an informal summit, with the aim of demanding more support for the countryside and denouncing the high costs they say they face to comply with the new climate and sustainability objectives committed by the 27.
Although agricultural policy was not part of the leaders’ agenda – who have met to try to convince the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbanto lift its veto on a common aid of 50,000 million in four years to Ukraine–, some of the leaders have announced that they want this issue to be discussed as well.
According to the first count of the Brussels Police, at least a thousand tractors have been concentrated since early Thursday in the streets surrounding the European quarter, included in the square that gives access to the main entrance of the European Parliament and the streets around the Council where the Heads of State.
Protests at the meeting of heads of state
“This is not the Europe we want” or “Tired of promises, we want actions”, are some of the slogans that can be read in different languages on the banners displayed by farmers in Luxembourg Square, in front of the European Parliament, where protesters have burned several tires. The authorities have reinforced the already strict police force that is deployed when the city hosts European summits.
Upon arrival at the leaders’ meeting, Belgium’s prime minister, the liberal Alexander de Croohas stated that it considers farmers’ complaints “partly legitimate” because they have already made “many efforts” to adapt to the ecological transition and it must be guaranteed that they “receive fair prices” for their products.
The president of France, Emmanuel Macronin whose country farmers have been carrying out major protests for days, also announced on the eve of the summit its intention to raise the agricultural issue to the Twenty-Seven discussion, with added elements such as the impact of trade agreements with third parties.
Macron flatly rejects the free trade pact that the EU and Mercosur They try to close and put pressure on the talks to cease, which clashes with the interests of other partners such as Spain, for whom this agreement is a priority.
In an attempt to calm the spirits of farmers and just a few months before the European elections in June, the European Commission offered on Wednesday to postpone by one year the obligation for farmers to set aside part of the cropland fallow to receive part of the support from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). To benefit from this flexibility, however, producers must reserve a portion of their land for other crops beneficial to soil health.