Demonstrating farmers clash with police as EU summit kicks off in Brussels
Farmers came to Brussels on Thursday morning with about 1,300 tractors to protest, police reported. The farmers are demonstrating against agricultural regulations that they say are too strict, as a European summit is being held in the capital. Police used tear gas and fire hoses in clashes with some of the protesters.
Protesters in Place du Luxembourg set fires and threw eggs at the European Parliament buildings. Fireworks were also set off and a monument in the square was vandalised. At around 10.30, some demonstrators tried to break through the police barrier at the Parliament. The police responded with fire hoses.
Projectiles were also thrown at the police, and some demonstrators dislodged and threw street furniture. In response, the police briefly used tear gas.
Protests are also taking place in other cities including Ghent. This morning, a blockade of farmers on the Ghent ring road consisted of 412 tractors, according to local police. However, "the farmers are following very disciplined guidelines", said police spokesperson Matto Langeraert.
Meanwhile, blockades by farmers on the Brussels ring road (R0-E19) in the Halle region continued throughout the morning. This is the fourth day in a row that farmers have occupied the motorways. Blockades have also been set up at a large distribution centre of the retailer Colruyt. At around 9:30 - after the morning rush hour - a motorway junction in Lummen, Limburg, was closed to all traffic due to a tractor blockade.
Despite the numerous blockades, traffic jams on the Flemish motorways remained limited on Thursday morning.
In Brussels, farmers are gathering as European heads of government meet for a summit. The summit is not about agricultural policy, but about European support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.
© BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM
© BELGA VIDEO MAARTEN WEYNANTS