As a form of protest, farmers threw eggs and stones at the European Parliament, while also starting fires and setting fireworks near the building. The protesting was a cry for the European Union leaders to do more to alleviate rising costs and taxes.
Small groups of protestors also tried to tear down the barriers in front of the parliament, also only a few blocks from where the summit was located, but they were quickly rushed by police who fired back with water hoses and teargas.
The protests comprised of farmers from various European countries, such as Italy and Spain, with the accumulation of numerous farmers leading to 1,300 tractors which then blocked major thoroughfares in Brussels.
The farmers explained their frustrations lie in insufficient wages, while also facing challenges from taxes and green rules, all while still enduring unfair competition internationally.
The protests spanning over Europe coincide with the upcoming European Parliament election in June, in which the farmers represent a growing ballot for the far right, and is expected to gain support.
A farmer representative for the Spanish farmers’ union Asaja, Jose Maria Castilla, explained:”You know what’s happening: European elections are coming and politicians are super nervous and also the European Commission. And I think that this is the best moment that together all the European farmers go to the street.”
Several initiatives have already been secured by the farmers, such as the bloc’s executive Commission proposals that would limit farm imports from Ukraine to reduce competition, and easing some environmental statutes on uncultivated land.
Although the farmers’ crisis is not an official item of agenda in the EU summit, it is expected to still be discussed. The focus of the summit is that of convincing Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, to support a plan for providing stable financing to Ukraine. Although not the focus of the summit, the Hungarian Prime minister still made a point of meeting farmers overnight, indicating the importance of the current agriculture concerns to him.
Orban’s representative quoted him as saying, “We need to find new leaders who truly represent the interests of the people,” when referring to the European Parliament elections. He also quoted Orban as saying, “The @EU_Commission should represent the interests of European farmers against those of Ukraine, not the other way around.”
Written by Kevin HanShare this: