European Farmers Protest | Tomorrow's World

European Farmers Protest

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As reported by Reuters and multiple news outlets, angry farmers are staging massive protests all across Europe over rising costs of fuel and fertilizer, the removal of government subsidies, increased environmental regulation related to climate change, and low-cost imported foods that are undercutting locally produced goods. Germany, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, and Spain have all seen protests. In France, tractors encircled Paris and were used to create blockades “in what farmers are describing as a siege of the French capital” according to the Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2024). Deutsche Welle reported that, in Belgium, “Around 1,000 tractors have descended on Brussels and police have deployed water cannons as farmers threw eggs and set off fireworks around the European Parliament” (February 1, 2024). Farmers have blocked roads throughout Europe, including every road to and from at least one major shipping port.

Many of the frustrations stem from government regulations related to the European Green Deal that wants to phase out the use of fossil fuels and reduce the size of meat and dairy herds to cut carbon emissions from cows. Countries that do not have these burdensome regulations produce much cheaper farm products. As a result of governmental regulations, “the EU is now seen as the enemy” (AP, February 1, 2024). However, some European MPs appear to be listening. The provocative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who touched a nerve with comments sympathetic to the farmers’ plight, met with farmers, telling them, “We need to find new leaders who truly represent the interests of the people.” He said this referring to the European parliamentary elections coming this summer. Some farmers have been quoted as saying that these issues may push them to vote for candidates on the far-right.

The coming elections could be significant as Europeans frustrated with current governments may see hope in more extreme candidates. Europe could look and act very differently in the days ahead.