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24 Feb, 2024 16:09

Farmers and police clash in Paris (VIDEO)

The protesters have been rallying against rising costs, taxes, and strict EU regulations
Farmers and police clash in Paris (VIDEO)

French farmers stormed into a major Paris farm fair on Saturday ahead of a visit by President Emmanuel Macron, and ended up scuffling with riot police. They have been protesting restrictive EU environmental regulations, as well as rising costs and taxes.

Videos shared on social media show farmers chanting: “Macron, resign!” as they attempt to push through the riot police lines while already inside the pavilion of the fair. “This is our home!” they were also heard shouting while facing off against officers in riot gear.

At one point, a violent fight broke out, with the farmers, fair staff members, and police pushing and kicking each other. The protesters managed to break through the police lines. One clip shows the demonstrators demolishing what is claimed to be an EU stand prepared for the exhibition.

It is unclear if anyone was injured in the standoff. According to Reuters, at least one person was arrested following the clashes. French police have so far not commented on the developments. The incident took place ahead of a scheduled visit to the fair by Macron.

The French leader had breakfast with farmers’ union leaders earlier on Saturday and was also expected to hold a debate with the farmers and other agriculture sector stakeholders at the fair. The debate was canceled amid the violent protests.

“I’m saying this for all farmers: you’re not helping any of your colleagues by smashing up stands, you’re not helping any of your colleagues by making the show impossible, and in a way scaring families away from coming,” Macron told journalists. According to Reuters, the storming of the exhibition by farmers delayed the opening for the public by at least an hour.

Macron nevertheless promised to meet with farmers’ union representatives in three weeks to discuss the situation.

Farmers’ protests began in several EU nations in late January in response to strict EU policies and environmental regulations, which included cuts in subsidies. They argued that Brussels’ plans would put them out of business and threaten their livelihoods.

Demonstrations were held in Germany, France, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria at the time. Paris scrapped plans to reduce subsidies on diesel for farmers in late January after protesters used tractors and other agricultural machines to block a major highway out of Paris and a road linking France to Spain. The rallies were largely suspended but resumed earlier this week.