Angry farmers take protest to EU summit in Brussels

Farmers took their traffic-disrupting tractors to Brussels to protest at the EU leaders summit.

Farmers took their traffic-disrupting tractors to Brussels to protest at the EU leaders summit. Photo: Getty

Convoys with hundreds of angry farmers driving heavy-duty tractors have advanced towards European Union headquarters, bent on having their complaints about excessive costs, rules and bureaucracy heard by leaders at an EU summit.

After warming themselves at burning piles of pallets on Thursday, the farmers mounted their vehicles and entered the Belgian capital to the rumble of engines, fireworks and blaring horns, in the culmination of weeks of protests around the bloc.

Even if the EU summit was supposed to be focused on providing Ukraine with financial aid for its war against invading Russia, the farmers were likely to squeeze their plight on to the informal agenda.

The protesters are farmers feeling ever-more squeezed by anything from higher energy prices, cheaper foreign competition that does not have to abide by strict EU rules, inflation and climate change that either withered, flooded or burned crops.

Similar protests have been held across the EU for most of the week.

Farmers blocked more traffic arteries across Belgium, France and Italy on Wednesday as they tried to disrupt trade at major ports and other economic lifelines.

While the days of mushrooming discontent have been largely peaceful, French police arrested 91 protesters who forced their way into Europe’s biggest food market on Wednesday, the Paris police chief said.

Farmers arriving in Brussels have been insisting their protest will be peaceful and security forces have handled the protests lightly so far.

The protests had an immediate impact on Wednesday.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, announced plans to shield farmers from cheap exports from Ukraine during wartime and allow farmers to use some land that had been forced to lie fallow for environmental reasons.

The plans still need to be approved by the bloc’s 27 member states and European Parliament, but they amounted to a sudden and symbolic concession.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.