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Agricultural unions call for end to lockdowns after measures announced in France

Two of France's main agricultural unions called on Thursday for protesters who staged hundreds of tractor blockades across the country to return home, after the government announced measures to try to quell anger in a movement that has spread. throughout Europe.

While some local complaints vary, the unrest, also seen in Belgium, Portugal, Greece and Germany, has exposed tensions over the impact on agriculture of the European Union's effort to combat climate change, as well as opening the door to cheap Ukrainian imports to help. the population of Kiev in the war effort.

Farmers' complaints across Europe include being stifled by environmental rules, taxes, rising costs and unfair competition from abroad.

Frustration came to a head in Brussels earlier in the day, where farmers threw eggs and stones at the European Parliament, set fires and set off fireworks as they demanded EU leaders, attending a summit, do more to help them.

“We want to put an end to these crazy laws that come every day from the European Commission,” said José Maria Castilla, a farmer who represents the Spanish farmers union Asaja in Brussels.

With the appeal of some French unions, the question now is whether farmers will lift their blockades in France – and what will happen to the protests that have spread across Europe.

French farmers have intensified protests since Monday (29), after more than two weeks of demonstrations. Fearing further escalations, the government promised on Thursday (1st) to offer them more protection, through better control of imports and the granting of extra help to farmers.

“Across Europe the same question arises: how can we continue to produce more but better? How can we continue to combat climate change? How can we avoid unfair competition from foreign countries?” said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, when announcing the new measures in Paris.

In response to the series of promises, Arnaud Rousseau of France's main farmers' union, FNSEA, said it was “time to go home” and end the lockdowns.

Unions warned that other types of protests would continue – and that they would return to the streets if the government did not fulfill its promises.

The protests across Europe come as the far right, for whom farmers represent a growing electorate, is expected to make gains in June's European Parliament elections.

In Brussels, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo – who holds the EU's rotating presidency – were due to meet with the European farmers' lobby, COPA-COGECA, after the summit of EU leaders.

Von der Leyen said the European Commission would work with Belgium on a proposal to reduce the administrative burden on farmers.

“For the farmers out there. We see you and we hear you,” said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

Source: CNN Brasil

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