Peasants besiege Paris Protest in Europe What are the reasons

Peasants besiege Paris. Protest in Europe: What are the reasons (not all the same)

With the parade of tractors attempting to siege Paris (the first disruptions from midday, with some highways leading to the capital closed), the farmers' protest is reaching one of its worst phases. The uprising is affecting many European countries, also thanks to the upcoming European Parliament elections: in fact, agricultural policy makes up a large part of Brussels' five-year budget 2023-2027. Some requirements imposed by the Union (particularly in the environmental area) have triggered the protest, but these are not uniform and the reasons vary from state to state. Here you will find an overview of what is happening.

* FRANCE, THE FURY OF CHILDREN – Maintaining subsidies for the purchase of diesel is the demand at the top of the list among French farmers. In this case, the target of the protest is the Paris government. The new Prime Minister Attal met with delegations of rural producers, but the outcome of the meeting was deemed fruitless. However, the soul of the movement is small producers, who are more affected by European policies than large companies and are more affected by the decline in income (-40% in 30 years).

* GERMANY, PORTS CLOSED – The strategy is the same as that of the French tractors, but the ports in the north of the country are paying the price, especially Hamburg: today the access routes to the docks were closed. The primary sector risks paying a very high price because, following the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, a “hole” has been created in the budget: a “minus” of around 60 billion, which the Scholz government wants to remedy through a drastic policy of cutting subsidies and tax increases . Many of these will impact agriculture.

*HOLLAND, SOS FARMING – The aim of the protests here is primarily the European directive, which aims to drastically reduce nitrogen emissions for which factory farming, one of the main components of Dutch agricultural production, is responsible. In 2023, the government approved compensation of 1.5 billion euros, but the price would be the closure of around 3,000 stables. The Netherlands witnessed the exploits of the “Peasant Party,” which was created precisely to express the sector’s rebellion against EU measures, a feat that has largely subsided but has been taken over by Geert Wilders’ right-wing party.

POLAND AND ROMANIA AGAINST CRAINA – The discontent of the two eastern countries is directed against Ukraine. The day after the Russian invasion, Brussels lifted a series of tariffs and measures that mimicked imports of agricultural products (particularly wheat) from Kiev, with the aim of supporting the attacked country's economy. However, this puts Polish and Romanian grain producers in serious trouble.

ITALY, THE RETURN OF THE PITCH FORKS – Despite the axis between the Meloni government and Coldiretti, tractor demonstrations also took place in Italy. At its head is, among others, the “revived” Danilo Calvani, former leader of the “Pitchforks” movement. The protest is directed against the EU agricultural policy, which is judged to be too restrictive, but also against the attitude of the traditional organizations in the sector, whose attitude is judged to be too “lukewarm”.

EUROPE MOTHER OR STEPMOTHER? – In general, the anger of the agri-food sector against Europe was triggered by a series of measures aimed at making all food production “greener” and more sustainable. We have already mentioned the directive against pollutant emissions. Added to these are those that require the decommissioning of land to ensure biodiversity or that require the restoration of part of the habitat (including marine habitat). On the other hand, agriculture continues to receive numerous subsidies from the European Union. The CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) for the five-year period 2023-2027 amounts to 36.5 billion. However, the share of aid (aimed primarily at income support for companies) in the total European budget is decreasing: according to the European Parliament, it was 66% at the beginning of the 1980s and has gradually fallen to just over 30%.