PARIS (Reuters) – French farmers angered by EU trade deals with Canada and Mercosur have protested by damaging offices belonging to lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s party, as public discontent against the government shows no sign of abating.
Farmers targeted politicians’ offices overnight in Poitiers, Loudun and Chatellerault in western France, a regional branch of Macron’s LREM party said on Twitter on Thursday.
A local farmers’ association said it carried out the protest, which entailed blocking access to the offices with impromptu brick walls on which they sprayed slogans against the treaty between the European Union and Canada, known as CETA.
“I am appalled by the wall and the graffiti that was put up last night in front of my office by the farmers,” tweeted Sacha Houlie, who represents the LREM party in Poitiers.
Anti-government protests picked up after the French parliament approved the EU-Canada trade deal last month. Opponents say it will undermine the EU’s social and environmental regulations by allowing imports of products made under conditions that would not be allowed in Europe.
As the CETA agreement comes under scrutiny, there is also anger among French farmers over the potential hit to their livelihoods under a provisional trade deal struck in June by the EU and the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, which includes major agricultural exporters Brazil and Argentina.
French farmers have a long tradition of staging disruptive protests. The current unrest comes on top of the ongoing “Yellow Vests” anti-government demonstrations, and there were also violent clashes in Nantes last weekend at an anti-police demonstration.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Frances Kerry)