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Farmers set fires in Brussels ahead of Agriculture Ministers meeting

Agriculture Ministers from across the European Union are meeting in Brussels today to discuss their response to protests by farmers across the EU. There have been demonstrations by farming groups in France, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Spain and in other countries. The protests have been triggered by what the farmers say are cheap imports from outside the EU, excessively restrictive environmental rules and falling incomes. Well, this morning, farmers are gathering in Brussels ahead of that meeting of EU ministers.

They use their tractors to block the roads. They also appear to have piled up tyres near the building which are now on fire. So let’s just show you those live shots of those tyres. You can see very thick black smoke there, blocking those streets with those fires still smoldering. Well, more process by farmers are planned today across Spain.

Angry farmers back to Brussels to escalate protests ahead of European agriculture ministers’ meeting

Angry farmers back to Brussels to escalate protests ahead of European agriculture ministers’ meeting

There are hundreds of farmers who are converging on Madrid today, many of them driving tractors into the centre of the city. At the moment, they’re still on the outskirts of Madrid, but later in the morning, they’re going to be driving into the centre of Madrid. They’re going to stop off, first of all, at the agriculture ministry, of course, the agriculture minister, Luis Panas, is in Brussels meeting with other ministers today.

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And then they will move on to the spanish offices of the European Commission because many of the grievances of these farmers are aimed at the European Union. And this, of course, is the second such protest in Madrid that we’ve seen in the space of a week by farmers. But there have been protests as well, ongoing protests across the country as well. Yeah, Guy, we’re just looking at those pictures from Brussels with those tyres on fire. With that meeting today of agriculture ministers, riot police were seen facing off with protesters very angry.

Farmers set fires in Brussels ahead of Agriculture Ministers meeting

And they’ve also used water cannon, which is quite unusual, isn’t it? The strength of feeling across Europe is really strong over this, isn’t it? And they do appear to be quite united, these farmers.

Yes, they are. And many of these european farmers, they share the same grievances. There’s a lot of talk about European Union farming regulations being too strict. So what they’re pushing for is more flexibility from the European Union with regard, for example, with regard to the environmental regulations that are imposed on farmers. And the farmers say that they push up costs, that those regulations increase red tape, and that makes it very difficult for them just to do their job day to day because they’re drowning in red tape.

Their costs are pushed up and it makes them difficult to make a profit and have time to do their actual job. At the same time, they want tougher controls on products from outside the European Union, which they say are undercutting them because they’re not subject to the same kinds of controls.

And is there a sense that there will be movement from ministers over these issues?

Do you, I mean, here in Spain, for example, the agriculture minister, Luis Planas, has presented a series of measures to the farmers which he says he’s taking to the European Commission today, and he’s going to try and push for these changes, for example, with regard to simplifying some of the bureaucracy. But those measures don’t seem to have impressed spanish farmers, at least now we have seen, a couple of weeks back, we saw some concessions already from von de Leon, the European Commission president, when she announced the withdrawal of a plan to slash the use of pesticides in the European Union.

So there have been some concessions already, but the protests have continued. So I think it’s going to take some really strident concrete measures from the ministers today or pushing ahead from today to impress the farmers and diffuse this situation and get them off the streets.

They did deploy water cannon, certainly earlier, with those scenes of thick, black smoke on the streets there and those line of tractors that we can just see with farmers there in a standoff. So we’ll keep an eye on the situation in Brussels as those protests continue, as agriculture ministers from across Europe meet to discuss those grievances by farmers right across the.

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