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23 Jan, 2024 10:22

Farmers block highways in France (VIDEOS)

The action by French agricultural workers follows similar protests in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania
Farmers block highways in France (VIDEOS)

Farmers blocked roads with tractors and trucks in several parts of France on Monday, continuing protests that they started last week, local media has reported.

The agricultural workers dumped rocks and gravel to make highway exits inaccessible near the city of Perpignan in the southwest of the country. Roads leading to the Golfech nuclear plant north of Toulouse were also shut down. The operator of the plant said it kept producing electricity despite the actions of the demonstrators.

The farmers said they had launched their protest due to high taxes on tractor fuel, cheap imports, price pressure from retailers, a shortage of water, and excessive red tape on both the national and EU levels.

The action by French farmers follows similar demonstrations by their German, Dutch, Polish and Romanian counterparts. Germany has seen the largest protests, which have decried not only EU regulations, but also a decision by Berlin to slash diesel subsidies worth €480 million ($520 million) for the sector. The government announced the move shortly after it said German support for Ukraine would double to €8 billion in 2024. The farmers have been blocking roads in the capital and elsewhere across the country since December, which have so far persuaded Berlin to make the cuts to subsidies gradual.

The French government has been promising to introduce a law that would support farmers for months. However, on Sunday, it said the legislation would be postponed for at least several weeks as it needed further improvement.

New French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and Arnaud Rousseau, the head of France’s largest farm union, FNSEA, held a meeting on Monday to discuss the situation.

“We told him [Attal] we wouldn’t settle for words,” Rousseau told the journalists after the talks. “We told [him] that, to build confidence, he needed to go into the field. He committed to meeting farmers in the field in the coming days.”

In a separate interview with France Inter radio, the FNSEA chief vowed that the farmers would not stop protesting until they achieved their goals. “During the whole week and for as long as necessary, a certain number of actions will be organized,” Rousseau stressed.

Politico reported last week, citing an unnamed French government minister, that President Emmanuel Macron had been “shaken” by the protests in rural areas. According to the outlet, the French leader is concerned that Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally could take advantage of the crisis to steal votes from his Renaissance party in the European Parliament election in June.

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