French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal vowed on Sunday to “act quickly” in the face of farmers' anger, on the eve of a planned “siege” of Paris by a profession that considers initial announcements in favor of the sector insufficient.
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• Also read: French peasants will begin a “siege” of Paris
The government announced on Sunday evening the presence of 15,000 police officers to prevent tractors from entering Paris and major French cities on Monday.
Because early Monday afternoon, farmers from the Paris region and northern France will begin “an indefinite siege of the capital,” according to the FNSEA and Young Farmers unions, the majority associations of the profession at national level.
During a trip to a farm in western France on Sunday, Mr Attal tried to calm the situation by speaking openly to farmers who spoke about their decline in income, their low pensions, administrative complexity, the inflation of standards or even foreign inflation Competition.
“I would like us to clarify things and see what additional measures we can take against these stories of unfair competition,” the head of government said. “It is not normal to be prevented from using certain products” while “neighbouring countries, Italy or others” could use them, he noted.
On Friday he announced a first series of measures during a trip to southwest France.
Mr Attal agreed that the initial announcements did not address “what is causing the unease and unrest of our farmers today”. “I am determined to move forward, to move forward decisively, to move forward quickly,” he promised on Sunday.
- Listen to the interview with Charles-Félix Ross, General Director of the Union of Agricultural Producers, on the microphone of Alexandre Dubé
For his part, the president of the FNSEA, the leading French agricultural union, called on the government to “go much further”.
“What we need are decisions that, in our opinion, change the software,” said Arnaud Rousseau in response to farmers blocking the A16 motorway north of Paris.
Despite a lull, many road connections remained disrupted across France on Sunday. The situation threatens to become more tense, especially with the planned closure of access to Paris on Monday.
“Everything will be organized safely around several closure points on important strategic motorway axes, around Paris there will be seven closure points” that will be occupied “by tractors and farmers,” explained Clément Torpier, president of the Young Farmers union of the Paris region.
At the end of an interministerial crisis meeting, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin explained that the 15,000 police forces mobilized on Monday must protect Paris, but also prevent the blockades of Rungis (the country's largest international fresh produce market south of Paris) and Paris airports.
There was a clash with armored gendarmerie vehicles on the edge of Rungis and Roissy international airport early on Sunday evening.
As he has done since the beginning of the farmers' demonstrations, Gérald Darmanin called on the police to show “moderation” by asking them “not to intervene at the blocking points, but to secure them”.
On the other hand, he encouraged them to intervene and make “arrests” in the event of damage and attacks by foreign trucks.
“Week of all dangers”
According to Arnaud Rousseau, the sequence begins with a “week of all dangers, either because the government will not hear us or because the anger will be so great that everyone will then assume their responsibilities.”
The president of the FNSEA sent dozens of complaints to the government this week: “As long as these demands are not met, the mobilization will be comprehensive,” he said, calling on his troops to “calm and peace.”
Mr Attal presented emergency measures on Friday, including the abandonment of the increase in the tax on non-road diesel (GNR), excessive compensation for breeders whose cattle are affected by the hemorrhagic animal disease and severe sanctions against three agri-food producers in compliance with the French Price laws.
Like their French neighbors, Belgian farmers were angry about what they saw as the impractical common European agricultural policy and blocked a highway in the south of their country on Sunday. Farmers have also recently mobilized in Germany, Poland, Romania and the Netherlands.