Farmers Protest EU Green Policies Ahead of Elections
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By The Smartencyclopedia Newsroom with Agencies

BRUSSELS — Days before elections across European Union countries, hundreds of farmers from across Europe converged in Brussels on Tuesday to protest against EU green policies. The demonstration, organized by the Dutch group Farmers Defense Force, saw about 500 tractors assemble at the Atomium monument on the outskirts of the city, according to police reports. Approximately 1,200 demonstrators participated, with farmers traveling from the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Germany.

“We want Europe to put the Green Deal away because it’s not realistic,” said Bart Dickens, president of Farmers Defense Force’s Belgian branch. The protest reflects a growing discontent among farmers who argue that the EU’s environmental policies are impractical and detrimental to their livelihoods.

In recent months, a series of farmer protests have disrupted activities in Brussels. However, as of mid-afternoon Tuesday, there were no reports of vehicles blocking traffic in the city.

In a show of solidarity, a parallel protest occurred in Poland, where farmers blocked a border crossing to Ukraine. The protest was aimed at supporting the demonstration in Brussels. According to police spokesperson Malgorzata Pawlowska, “This protest will last three days… trucks traveling from Ukraine are blocked and 12 trucks are allowed to leave Poland between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.” Despite this, the two largest farming unions in Poland, Solidarity and the All Poland Alliance (OPZZ), stated they were unaware of the protests.

The Farmers Defense Force movement, which has gained traction as the June elections approach, is considered close to the far-right. The Brussels demonstration featured about a dozen speakers, including hard-right figures from Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice party and the Flemish Vlaams Belang. Coordination Rurale, a right-leaning farmers union in France, also protested against the environmental demands in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, over-regulation, and free-trade deals.

Previous protests by farmers in Brussels earlier this year led to favorable concessions, highlighting the influence and impact of such demonstrations. However, not all farming groups are participating in the current protest. Copa-Cogeca, the mainstream pan-European farming group, and La Via Campesina, another prominent farming association, chose not to attend.

“We reject this attempt by small groups that have no concrete proposals to address farmers’ issues to hijack farmer concerns to push their party interests,” said a spokesperson for Via Campesina, criticizing the political motives behind the protests.

To maintain order, demonstrators were designated a specific area on the edge of Brussels for their protest. Police were deployed to ensure that the farmers did not enter the heart of the city, preventing potential disruptions to urban activities.

As the EU elections draw near, the protests underscore the significant tensions between agricultural communities and EU policymakers over the future direction of environmental and agricultural policies.

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