Farmers in Europe step up protests against rising costs, green rules

The French government on Wednesday sent armoured vehicles to protect a wholesale food market in Paris, in a sign of escalating tensions as farmers blocked highways in France and Belgium and protests spread elsewhere in Europe, News.Az reports citing Reuters.

Spanish and Italian farmers said they were joining the protest movement, which has also hit Germany, that aims to press governments to ease environmental rules and shield them from rising costs and cheap imports.

With all eyes on a summit of EU leaders set for Thursday, the bloc's executive Commission made proposals to limit farm imports from Ukraine and loosen some green regulations.

But that was unlikely to be enough to quell the anger of farmers who said they would continue to block highways and ports until all their demands were met.

"What is happening at the moment stems from the accumulation of rules that at first you accept... till it becomes too much," said Arnaud Rousseau, head of France's powerful FNSEA union.

While protests have so far been largely peaceful - though French farmers have sprayed liquid manure at local prefecture buildings and set tyres on fire - police arrested 18 people on Wednesday amid standoffs.

Those arrested were driving tractors and trying to block the wholesale food market at Rungis in Paris, a hub for produce for France and beyond, a police prefecture source said. So far, police had let farmers block highways without stepping in.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has warned that while farmers' protests on highways would be tolerated, police would not allow farmers to block airports or the Rungis market.

In total, there are about 100 blockades, he said.



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