Farmers protest in Madrid despite EU concessions

A farmer at a protest in Spain.
A farmer at a protest in Spain. Copyright Bernat Armangue/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Thousands of Spanish farmers protested with tractors in Madrid on Sunday, as Polish farmers blocked a highway leading to Germany.

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Dozens of tractors and hundreds of farmers returned to Madrid on Sunday denouncing the European Union's agricultural politics.

Organisers claimed that 1,000 people attended the protest, but the government counted 450 farmers as attending. 

The march started at the Ministry of Ecology Transition and ended outside the Agriculture Ministry headquarters, symbolising the two main concerns of farmers: extensive bureaucracy and "eco" measures. 

Some farmers carried banners reading: “No to 2030 agenda”, meaning the EU's "Green Transition". 

A man sells Spanish flags during a farmers protest in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, March 17, 2024.
A man sells Spanish flags during a farmers protest in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, March 17, 2024.Bernat Armangue/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Protesters claim that policies dictated by the European Union aimed at protecting the environment make their produce uncompetitive in comparison to imports outside of the EU. 

They also claim that the policies straddle farms with bureaucracy that many small to medium-sized farms cannot cope with. 

Polish farmers also joined the protest, blocking a key highway that leads from Poland into Germany. 

The crossing, located in Swiecko, has a daily average of 17,000 trucks passing through.

"The countryside has burst and we have to put on the table measures that make it possible to adjust environmental protection measures to the economic viability of farms," one Spanish farmer Luis González told AP, a US news agency. 

Spain and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, have made some concessions in recent weeks but farmers say they are insufficient.

Besides EU policies, Spanish farmers maintain that a law aimed at guaranteeing that wholesale major supermarket buyers pay fair prices for their goods isn’t being enforced while consumer prices soar.

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