900 tractors came to Brussels: burning tires, shooting water cannons

Police in riot gear patrolled the barricades set up at the main entrances to the EVT building, where the bloc’s 27 agriculture ministers gathered. Hundreds of tractors lined up with flags and banners disrupted traffic in the city.

Brussels police reported that 900 tractors entered the city, many of which arrived at the EVT building.

A few hundred meters from this building, farmers overturned a pile of tires, and the police brought water cannons before the farmers set it on fire, which they later used.

VIDEO: Tractors and burning tires against water cannons: Farmers protest in Brussels

Earlier this month, a similar demonstration turned violent when farmers set fire to bales of hay, threw eggs and firecrackers at police near a summit of EU leaders.

VIDEO: 900 tractors came to Brussels

“We’re being ignored”

Some bemoaned what they saw as the slow death of agriculture.

“Farming. As a child, you dream about it, but as an adult, you die for it,” said one of the farmers.

“We are being ignored,” farmer Marieke Van De Vivere from the Ghent region in northern Belgium told the AP news agency.

She invited the ministers to be understanding, to come one day to work in the fields, with horses or animals, to see that, in her words, it is not very easy because of the rules they apply.

The protests are the latest in a series of farmers’ rallies and demonstrations across Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron was booed at the opening of the Paris agricultural exhibition on Saturday by farmers who say he is not supporting them enough. In recent weeks, protests have taken place in Spain, the Netherlands and Bulgaria.

Polish farmers continued to block a major road into Germany for a second day on Monday in protest against what they say are overly strict environmental rules and cheaper imports from outside the European Union.

As political parties prepare for the June 6-9 European Parliament elections, the movement has gained momentum and has already produced results.

Earlier this month, the EU executive withdrew a proposal to combat pesticide use in favor of farmers, who make up an important part of the electorate.

“We can clearly hear the complaints”

On the other side of the barricades in Brussels, ministers tried to show they were listening.

Belgium, which currently holds the European Council presidency, has acknowledged that farmers are worried about the burden of complying with environmental regulations, reduced support from the bloc’s agricultural subsidy system and the impact of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s grain supplies.

“We clearly hear their complaints,” said Belgian Agriculture Minister David Clarinval. However, he urged them to refrain from violence: “We can understand that some of them are in a difficult situation, but aggression has never been a source of solutions.”

French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau told several reporters who were allowed inside the building by police that “signals need to be sent immediately, showing farmers that something is changing, not only in the short term, but also in the medium and long term.”

Meanwhile, Irish Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has indicated that reducing administrative red tape must be a priority.

According to him, the EU should ensure that agricultural policy is simple, proportionate and as simple as possible for farmers to implement.

Ch. McConalogue emphasized that “we respect the very important work that farmers do every day to produce food.”

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2024-04-24 16:13:57

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