Environmental Restrictions and Rising Prices Trigger a Series of Protests by European Farmers 

As an attempt to achieve ambitious climate objectives of net-zero emission, European leaders have introduced a series of measures to overhaul the agriculture sector. These steps include a 50 per cent reduction in chemical pesticide by 2030, which is further worsened by the rising prices of the high cost of fertiliser triggered by the Ukrainian war. As a result, tens of thousands of European farmers are enraged by the policies due to the economic pressures stemming from these climate regulations, high production costs, and cheap imports from countries with less strict rules. 

Sights of tractors congesting traffic are evident in various countries such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Although the protests were sparked by the new environmental restrictions imposed by European policymakers, domestic factors proved to be contributors for these demonstrations. 

In Germany, farmers started protesting in response to the government’s regulation to end diesel fuel subsidies which they were heavily dependent on. On the other hand, French farmers were angered by the increasingly dominant market control and the growing land consolidations carried out by massive distribution chains, which may harm the quality of their products. 

As a means to ease these protests, The European Commission has granted concessions by announcing suspension of import taxes on Ukrainian imported goods until June 2025. Additionally, Germany has partly reversed its decision to reduce diesel subsidies. Despite these concessions by governments and Brussels, some farmers believe that these measures are not enough, and thus are demanding further action along with more radical changes. 

Author: M. W. N. Shiddiq

References: 

Lu, Christina. “Europe’s Farmer Protests Are Part of a Bigger Problem.” Foreign Policy, 28 February 2024, foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/20/europe-farmers-protests-climate-eu-green-deal/.

Liakos, Sophie Tanno, Chris. “Farmers’ Protests Have Erupted across Europe. Here’s Why.” CNN, 3 February 2024, edition.cnn.com/2024/02/03/europe/europe-farmers-protests-explainer-intl/index.html.

Zaretsky, Robert. “The Enduring Power of “La Terre.”” Foreign Policy, 28 February 2024, foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/25/france-farmer-protests-agriculture-macron/.

Image: Euronews