EU to face more protest chaos as ‘suffering’ farmers across bloc blast budget plans

EU farmers took to the streets of Brussels on Thursday to protest against the latest European Council proposals to cut subsidies until now designated to fund the Common Agricultural Policy. European Council President Charles Michel made the proposal as he presented the 2020 budget plans to EU leaders in an attempt to promote the European Green Deal. But farmers across the bloc are lamenting their already struggling industry will not be able to survive the cuts. 

Protesting in Brussels on Thursday, the first day of the EU Special Summit, Belgian dairy farmer Jannes Maes told France24: “What we see today are severe cuts within the proposal that is part of the European budget.

“Severe cuts in a sector which is already suffering today.

“We have European farmers who are on an average of 40 percent of the income of the average European citizen.

“So farmers are already struggling.”

Echoing concerns in France, farmer and breeder Jean-Claude Pette said: “It’s fine to make agricultural policies greener.

“But there comes a time when in terms of farming efficiency you reach limits.

“Farming isn’t necessarily environmentally friendly.”

Agriculturalists from Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined forces to demonstrate against potential cuts to the bloc’s multi-billion euro Common Agricultural Policy.

They fear the bloc is about to tighten its purse strings when it comes to billions in annual handouts to farmers across the Continent.

The Federation Wallonne de L’Agriculture, which represents Belgium’s French-speaking farmers, accused Brussels of ignoring thousands of family-run businesses by tying them up in swathes of red tape.

A spokeswoman said: “We have very big economic problems in our family-run farms. What we are afraid of is they may eventually disappear in the future.

“It’s very hard for them to generate incomes because they have to face products coming from outside Europe with lower standards – it’s less expensive to produce and less expensive to buy – so there are many problems for European farmers because they have to reach this very high quality asked by Europe but can’t sell for the right price for the quality of their work.”

She added Brussels needs to maintain its “high” CAP budget to “compensate” farmers for the lost profits.

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Latvia’s Prime Minister joined the demonstration before sitting down to meet his fellow EU leaders.

Supporting Baltic farmers, Arturs Krisjanis Karins called for a “level playing field” and for Brussels to stop “punishing” agriculturalists based on their location.

He told’s Brussels Correspondent, Joe Barnes: “The argument is quite simple, if we are going to subsidise farming, we should do it fairly.

“Everyone competes in the same market, everyone has similar costs – why punish or benefit some farmers as to others? They should all be on a level playing field, this is what we argue for all sectors of the single market… let’s apply it to farming as well.”

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