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Fuel protests gridlock Brussels ahead of EU talks

Fuel protests gridlock Brussels ahead of EU talks
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A day before EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss the fuel and food crisis, protesters are making sure their voices are taken into account. Farmers, truckers and taxi drivers blocked roads into the Belgian capital, two weeks after a protest there by French and Italian fishermen.

Action has been increasing across Europe, with the staging of go-slow protests on major routes. Paris and other capitals are calling on the European Commission to be more responsive to the concerns of protesters. Brussels continues to cite strict rules about aid which member states can offer industries in trouble.

Farmers also handed out free vegetables and meat. They said it was to make the point that it is almost not worth going to the market to sell their produce, considering how little they get for it.

The Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, said: “They are right to defend what they are doing, and the profits they want to make. I think they need an income and for the moment in the market, the way prices are made, I think we have some problems.”

Leterme has offered farmers the chance to spread their yearly tax payments. But he also says he will urge Thursday’s summit to look at deeper reform.