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Farmers on the A13 west of Paris earlier this week Mairead Maguire via The Journal

French farmers lift roadblocks after tense week of protests

Some concessions have been made in the form of better funding, eased regulations and protection against unfair competition.

FRANCE’S MINISTER FOR Agriculture has said the worst of the crisis is over, as farmers who had occupied key motorways around Paris all week begin to lift their blockades.

Some concessions have been made in the form of better funding, eased regulations and protection against unfair competition.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal had previously announced the government would drop the mooted increase to agriculture fuel, and would eliminate some of the red tape involved in technical processes.

But the farmers, who have 140 demands, are still far from appeased.

Protests spread like wildfire across Europe, as farmers showed solidarity with one another.

Last night, Irish farmers turned out on main roads in Galway, Longford, Westmeath, and elsewhere, driving tractors adorned with signs saying “no farm, no food” and “enough is enough”.

Much anger was directed at environmental requirements included in the EU’s updated Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the bloc’s forthcoming “Green Deal”.

Yesterday, hundreds of protestors took to Brussels, where the city centre was gridlocked for hours with tractors and trailers. 

Smoke filled the air as farmers burned bales of hay, tyres and wooden pallets. Some onlookers were scared off by the bangs of small explosions, while others joined the demonstration on Place de Luxembourg, right outside the European Parliament.

‘Historic mobilisation’

Today, after the two main farming unions announced the suspension of the road blockades in neighbouring France, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said that the worst of the crisis is “pretty much behind us”.

“But the issues that we have to deal with and that have emerged in this crisis are still ahead of us,” he told CNews television.

Authorities said Thursday evening that many roadblocks across the country were being lifted or eased and farmers continued to move tractors off the streets this morning, even though some blockades remained in place.

“It was a historic, tough, strong mobilisation,” said Laurent Saint-Affre of the FNSEA union in the southern Aveyron department. But he said that a number of sticking points remained, warning authorities that farmers could take their tractors out on the streets again “in a few days”.

Speaking to RTL radio station, Arnaud Gaillot, head of the Young Farmers (JA) union, pointed to a sense of “fatigue” after ten days of protests and a “desire to put things on hold.”

The roadblocks on the A4 and A5 motorways in Seine-et-Marne east of the French capital have been lifted entirely, while the demonstrations in place elsewhere have reduced in size.

Around Lyon, all roadblocks are expected to be lifted by 2pm.

With reporting by © AFP 2024 

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