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Farmers protests lead to concessions almost everywhere

Since the start of 2024, farmers have been demonstrating in almost every European country, winning concessions from national governments and opening the debate on measures at the EU level

By: EBR - Posted: Monday, March 4, 2024

Some of the protesters’ demands are the same all across Europe. Most of them relate to specific needs.
Some of the protesters’ demands are the same all across Europe. Most of them relate to specific needs.

by Angelo Di Mambro

Since the start of 2024, farmers have been demonstrating in almost every European country, winning concessions from national governments and opening the debate on measures at the EU level.

The situation is evolving and more demonstrations are expected in the coming weeks, at least until mid-March.

The map and the table in this article provide a complete European picture of the protests, farmers’ demands and national governments’ concessions so far. The infographics are based on Euractiv’s Agrifood Hub and The Capitals Hub reports, as well as local media reports.

Some of the protesters’ demands are the same all across Europe. Most of them relate to specific needs.

https://infogram.com/mapping-the-farmers-protest-demands-and-concessions-1hxj48m5j98952v 

The EU demands

The debate at the EU level focuses on the administrative simplification of the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in particular on a list of nine environmental requirements (GAECs) that farmers must respect to access EU financial support.

The European Commission will present proposals by mid-March and reopen the debate on the bargaining power of farmers in the food chain. In January, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen launched a “strategic dialogue” on the future of EU agriculture.

The impact of trade on the agricultural sector is another concern for all EU farmers. The liberalisation of imports from Ukraine, initially opposed in the frontline countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia) has become a source of criticism for producers in countries not bordering Ukraine, such as the Czech Republic and France.

In an open letter calling on the EU to “respond effectively to the historic farmers’ protests”, the EU farmers’ organisations COPA and COGECA included among their demands the speeding up of the ongoing legislative processes on gene-edited crops.

The currently discussed Industrial Emissions Directive and the Packaging Waste Regulation, are opposed by farmers in their current form.

The national level

At the protests in France, Spain and Italy, the demand for a fair remuneration of farmers was strong. Paris and Madrid promised the reinforcement of controls in the food chain.

Belgium resumed initiatives facilitating the consultation among the players in the food chain. In Italy, the government re-established a tax exemption for farmers.

Indeed, tax exemptions are one of the most common national concessions across the EU.

https://infogram.com/table-or-farmers-protests-and-national-governments-concessions-1h0r6rzlq7gjw4e 

In Germany, the demonstrations were triggered by the government’s decision to abolish tax exemptions on fuel and agricultural vehicles. Berlin subsequently backtracked on the latter and introduced a gradual phasing-out (rather than an immediate abolition) of the former.

The Irish Farmers’ Association asked the Dublin government for a derogation from the Nitrates Directive and for measures to combat the plant disease known as ash dieback.

Latvian farmers demanded a ban on Russian food imports, and the government decided to restrict imports from Moscow, allowing food transit only.

*first published in: Εuractiv.com

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