Over a thousand tractors blockade Brussels: Farmers protest EU agricultural policies
The agricultural tractors assembled in front of the European Parliament on Wednesday evening. Before this, the adjacent area to the parliament had been cordoned off with barbed wire, with substantial police presence noticeable.
While predominantly Belgian farmers have converged on Brussels, there are also representatives from France, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. Their main points of contention are the EU's agricultural policies and regulations and the importation of agricultural goods from other countries.
"Stop this madness," "Your import, our catastrophe," and "This is not the Europe we desire" are some of the messages emblazoned on the agricultural machines lining the streets of Brussels.
Images and video footage from the protest continue to surface on social media. It's visible that the police have resorted to using water cannons against the protesters while farmers have been setting tires ablaze.
Understanding the farmers' protest in Brussels
The Belga Agency attributes the peak of the dissatisfaction among farmers to the European Green Deal, which aims to transition Europe to carbon neutrality by 2050. The deal and nature restoration law, which seeks to enhance biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems, have imposed new obligations and constraints on European farming.
Simultaneously, the agency observes, "climate change presents an escalating challenge for farmers. Requirements concerning nitrogen emissions and water quality are pushing farmers to despair in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. In Spain, farmers are grappling with a long-lasting drought, dramatically limiting water use in their fields. German farmers have been obstructing highways since early January, partly protesting against the discontinuation of diesel fuel subsidies."