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Farmers’ anger: mobilization continues in Prague, Madrid and Warsaw in Europe

If French farmers keep up the pressure in the days leading up to the opening of the Paris Agricultural Exhibition, their European counterparts won’t give up either. The European agricultural world continues to express its dissatisfaction with environmental standards set by the European Union, unfair competition created by imports from Ukraine, or the complexity of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Coordinated mobilization in the East

Another demonstration was expected in Prague, Czech Republic, on Monday. Representatives of agricultural organizations from central and eastern European countries also agreed to organize a day of coordinated international demonstration on Thursday, Euractiv reported. Delegations from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and Latvia met last Tuesday in Poland to decide on organizing this first day of joint mobilization.

On the Warsaw side, a new demonstration was also announced on Tuesday, and on February 9, farmers began a “month-long general strike.” In addition to climate measures introduced by the European Union, they are particularly protesting against the massive import of Ukrainian products, exempt from customs duties after the Russian invasion.

Since November they have been blocking roads and border crossings, and a diplomatic incident is brewing. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Alexander Kubrakov on Monday called the border blockade a “threat to the security” of Ukraine. Polish farmers also condemn the inaction of their government, which recently raised the possibility of introducing new bans on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products.

Demonstrations in Madrid and Athens

The situation also remains tense in Spain, Europe’s leading fruit and vegetable exporting country. Three agricultural unions have planned a demonstration on Wednesday in Madrid in front of the Agriculture Ministry. For two weeks, farmers mobilized across the country, blocking major roads.

Last Thursday, several tractors had already gathered on the sidelines of a meeting with the minister responsible for the sector, Luis Planas. The latter has already announced the “establishment of a national food information and control agency” and has assured that it will advocate for the simplification of the CAP and the protection of “mirror provisions” that require imported products to respect the same rules as those introduced. about European farmers. Three announcements were not enough to relieve the pressure.

Greek farmers also planned to gather in Athens on Tuesday after days of blocking roads. Last week, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis received representatives of the sector and opened the discussion, while recalling the country’s limited “fiscal margin”. Among the promises that have already been made but found to be insufficient: reduction in electricity bills for the next ten years, from April, reduction in VAT on fertilizers and animal feed.

European ministers meeting next Monday

In early February, other European farmers, from Germany to Portugal, including Belgium and Switzerland, expressed their outrage. More than a thousand farmers were still gathered in Rome last Thursday after demonstrations in several Italian cities. To calm the anger, the head of the far-right government, Georgia Meloni, has promised to restore tax breaks for poor farmers.

In response to the agricultural revolt, the European Commission has already accepted a partial exemption from fallow obligations for 2024, which is one of the key demands of farmers. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, also announced the repeal of controversial legislation that, among other things, aimed to halve the use of pesticides by 2030.

The European chief executive is still looking forward to the issue: European Union agriculture ministers will meet next Monday. Under pressure.

Source: Le Parisien

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