Published: 10:53, February 10, 2024 | Updated: 10:55, February 10, 2024
European farmers stage protests over EU rules, cheap imports
By Xinhua

A tractor bearing a banner reading "Europe assassin" and "Let's save our food" arrives in a field near Rome's Grande Raccordo Anulare (ring road), during an action by farmers to pressure the government to improve their working conditions, on the outskirts of Rome on Feb 9, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

ROME/WARSAW - Farmers in Italy, Poland, Spain and Bulgaria have staged new protests this week against excessively restrictive European Union regulations and cheap imports from non-EU countries.

In Italy on Friday, a convoy of tractors drove past the historical center of Rome, bearing national flags and slogans such as "Without farmers: No food, no future" and "End payment for not growing crops."

In Poland, farmers also took to the streets on Friday, blocking off roads and the border crossings with Ukraine, in protest against EU farming policies and cheap imports from Ukraine

"We have our priorities and we have followed the rules, and now we expect our priorities to be taken seriously by the authorities," Salvatore Fais, leader of Agricultural Redemption, the organizer of the protest, told Xinhua.

Hours later, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with farmer representatives and announced that personal income tax exemptions would be extended to those with an annual income of up to 10,000 euros ($10,800).

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In Poland, farmers also took to the streets on Friday, blocking off roads and the border crossings with Ukraine, in protest against EU farming policies and cheap imports from Ukraine.

The demonstration is planned to last for 30 days. Poland's Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Czeslaw Siekierski said he would support the implementation of a "complete" import ban on product categories if necessary.

He mentioned sugar and poultry as potential targets due to concerns about the excessive influx of such products from Ukraine.

Friday is the fourth day of protests by Spanish farmers, who have been blocking several streets, highways and ports across the country and announced plans to gather in Madrid. A convoy of tractors bearing Spanish flags disrupted the traffic on the A-2 highway to Madrid near the central town of Torija during the daytime.

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Spanish media reported that the farmers railed against the EU's environmental rules and what they called as excessive taxes and red tape.

A banner reading "Stop destroying the Polish agriculture" is seen on February 9, 2024 as farmers with tractors block the access to the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Dorohusk, eastern Poland, during a farmers' protest across the country against EU politics and Ukrainian agricultural products allowed on EU market at low prices. (PHOTO / AFP)

On Thursday morning, Bulgarian farmers' protests blocked the outbound traffic at the Giurgiu Border Crossing Point on the Romania side. The blockade lasted approximately four hours, according to the Giurgiu Border Police Territorial Inspectorate.

According to Bulgaria media, the nationwide demonstrations by farmers and agricultural workers in Bulgaria started on Tuesday and stemmed from concerns over cheap imports from Ukraine.

READ MORE: French farmers block highways to step up pressure on government

Farmers have staged demonstrations across Europe in recent weeks to protest against low produce prices, rising costs, cheap imports and constraints linked to the EU's policies against climate change. They are demanding action by the authorities.

The European Commission has made some concessions over the last few weeks, including withdrawing plans to halve the use of pesticides and other dangerous substances. Nonetheless, the protests have continued.