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14 Feb, 2022 11:16

Another EU capital braces for convoy protest

A ‘Freedom Convoy’ arrived in French border town Lille on Sunday ahead of a demonstration in Belgium
Another EU capital braces for convoy protest

The Belgian capital Brussels braced for the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ on Monday. Around 1,300 vehicles from across France arrived near the northern border a day before, ready to take their anti-mandates protest to the seat of EU power.

Police have estimated that hundreds of cars, campervans and trucks taking part in a Canada-style anti-vax mandate convoy arrived in Lille on Sunday evening. 

Protesters chanted “We won't give up!” and “Freedom! Freedom!”, having set up camp at a parking facility near the northern French city.

“We’ll go to Brussels to try to block it, to fight against this policy of permanent control,” unemployed 58-year-old Jean-Pierre Schmit told AFP.

According to the group’s social media channels, the Brussels protest is expected to gather near Parc du Cinquantenaire to the west of the city's EU quarter.

Authorities in the Belgian capital have already issued an order banning protests which involve “motorized vehicles.”

They have also advised that people not travel to Brussels by car. Law enforcement has also prohibited some vehicles from entering the city until Tuesday, local media reported. “We're doing everything we can to prevent Brussels from getting blocked,” said Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo advised demonstrators to abandon their protest. “I say to those who come from abroad: look at the rules in Belgium. We never had rules that were too hard and we don't have so many anymore. So, complain at home,” he said on Friday.

The French ‘Freedom Convoy’ had gathered in Paris over the weekend with the aim of bringing the city to a standstill while protesting the vaccine pass and other anti-Covid restrictions.

Only around 100 of 3,000 vehicles made it to the Champs-Elysees on Friday evening. Those that did were soon dispersed as police deployed tear gas. Hundreds of fines were issued by police as the demonstration continued over the weekend.