French farmers have been told they must pay back millions in subsidy handouts. Between 1992 and 2002 fruit and vegetable producers in France received around 340 million euros in state aid. The EU has now said the farmers must pay it back plus penalties because it broke European competition law.
France’s new agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire has said the French government will start recovering the money in September. However, he stressed each producer’s ability to pay would be examined on a case-by-case basis. Farmers say the decision will cripple them particularly at a time of huge economic uncertainty. Many say they will refuse to give back the money, and last Thursday French fruit farmers blocked trucks crossing the border from Spain. France has already launched an appeal to contest the amount demanded by Brussels.