French farmers protest as government prepares to announce new measures – Europe live | European Union

Spread the love


French farmers protest as government prepares to announce new measures

French farmers are once again protesting today, putting pressure on the country’s government, which is expected to announce new measures aimed at addressing the agriculture sector’s concerns.

French farmers occupy and block the A1 motorway between Lille and Paris during a demonstration in Lesquin, northern France25, 2024.
French farmers occupy and block the A1 motorway between Lille and Paris during a demonstration in Lesquin, northern France on Thursday. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated at 

Key events

Why are European defence leaders talking about war?

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

A wave of anxiety has gripped European defence ministers and armed forces as politicians and military leaders believe that Nato-sceptic Donald Trump could be elected as the next president of the US – and that Russia may not be forced out or defeated in Ukraine.

This febrile mood has prompted growing warnings that Europe could find itself involved in a war in Russia, even though at present Russia is embroiled in Ukraine.

At the same time, tensions in the Middle East have continued to rise. Israel’s assault on Gaza continues; hostilities with Iran-aligned Hezbollah in Lebanon increase; and the US and the UK launched bombing raids on Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen to halt raids on shipping in the Red Sea.

Read the explainer here.

International Rescue Committee criticises Italy-Albania deal

The International Rescue Committee said today that the Italian government’s proposed migration deal to transfer people rescued at sea to Albania was “costly, cruel and counterproductive.”

Italy’s lower chamber of parliament approved the agreement earlier this week.

Susanna Zanfrini, the IRC’s Italy country director, said: “As it moves a step closer to becoming a reality, Italy’s plan to build detention centres for asylum seekers in Albania remains deeply worrying – from a humanitarian, legal and moral perspective.”

She added:

It is unspeakably cruel for Italy to even consider sending people who have been rescued at sea directly to another country, where it cannot be guaranteed their rights will be upheld.

While the government has said this will not apply to children or people with vulnerabilities, the deal does not explicitly confirm this, and huge questions remain about how it would be implemented in practice.

Moreover, it is still far from clear how people held in the Albanian centres would access legal advice when lawyers are not just outside the facility, but in another country altogether.

Updated at 

US ‘disappointed’ that Hungary taking so long to approve Sweden joining Nato

The US is disappointed Hungary’s ratification of Sweden joining Nato is taking so long, Washington’s ambassador has said, warning that Budapest is “really alone” and that the Hungarian government is pursuing a “foreign fantasy” instead of foreign policy.

After months of delays, Turkey’s parliament approved Sweden’s Nato membership this week. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, signed it off on Thursday, leaving Hungary as the only country in the 31-member alliance that has yet to ratify the Swedish bid.

While the Hungarian government formally supports Sweden’s accession, the country’s parliament has avoided voting on the matter, fuelling frustration among Nato allies and raising questions about the motivations of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

The Hungarian leader routinely criticises his western allies and has been nurturing relationships with Moscow and Beijing.

In an interview at the US embassy in Budapest on Thursday afternoon, the US ambassador, David Pressman, said: “An alliance is only as strong as the commitments that we make to each other and the commitments that we keep.

“I think that it’s important that the Hungarian government live up to its commitment, and its commitment has been that it will not be the last ally to ratify Sweden’s accession.”

He added: “Keeping your word is obviously an important element of trust in any relationship.”

Read the full story here.

Here are the latest photos from France, as farmers block highways.

Farmers gather at a fire as they block a highway leading to Paris, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 in Saclay, south of Paris. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP
Farmers block a roundabout in Fontainebleau, south of Paris. Photograph: Thibault Camus/AP

‘The world is changing too fast for us’: organic farmers on urgency of French protests

Angelique Chrisafis

Angelique Chrisafis

Pierre Bretagne woke at 4am to feed the cows on his organic farm near the coastal town of Pornic in western France, then did something he had never dared to before.

He made a cardboard protest banner about the nightmare of French bureaucracy and went to cheer on a go-slow convoy of tractors warning that French farming and the rural way of life was facing collapse. Effigies of dead farmers dangled from nooses on tractor trailers as the convoy drove into the centre of the Brittany city of Rennes, beeping horns and waving banners. “Quality has a price,” read one.

“We’re fed up and exasperated,” says Bretagne, 38. “I love my job – I farm organically because it’s what I believe in and it’s the right thing ethically and in terms of health. In nine years of farming, I’ve never been on a protest; I’d rather be with my animals. But things are getting so difficult – we need decent prices that reflect not just the quality of our produce but the love we put into this job and into the countryside. This is a passion, a vocation, but we don’t get the recognition for it.”

The French government has been taken by surprise by the scale and fury of grassroots farmer demonstrations that have spread from the south-west across the whole country this week.

Bales of hay and tractors have been used to block main highways; manure has been sprayed on public buildings and supermarkets in the south-west. Crates of tomatoes, cabbages and cauliflowers that farmers said had been cheaply imported were dumped across roads.

Although the protests follow other demonstrations by European farmers in countries including Germany and Romania, the French protests have a particularly urgent and local political flavour. France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer, has thousands of independent producers of meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables and wine, who have a reputation for staging disruptive protests.

Read the full story here.

French farmers protest as government prepares to announce new measures

French farmers are once again protesting today, putting pressure on the country’s government, which is expected to announce new measures aimed at addressing the agriculture sector’s concerns.

French farmers occupy and block the A1 motorway between Lille and Paris during a demonstration in Lesquin, northern France on Thursday. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated at 

Welcome to the blog

Good morning and welcome back to the Europe blog.

Send comments and tips to lili.bayer@theguardian.com.



Source link