Farmers start week of protests by blocking Brussels ring road
Protesting farmers from Hainaut reached the Brussels ring road on Sunday evening, causing major traffic disruption, according to the federal police and the Flemish traffic centre.
"We are stopping, but we want to go elsewhere," one of the activists from the Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs told Belga. "Some even want to go to Brussels."
In Ruisbroek, the inner ring road to Waterloo was completely blocked. The federal police attended in large numbers, but did not intervene. A police helicopter monitored the situation from the air.
The farmers had announced on Sunday evening that they would occupy the motorways until Monday morning. The blockades were expected to cause serious disruption in and around Halle during the Monday morning rush hour. The traffic centre advised drivers to avoid the area.
Meanwhile, farmers also blocked a distribution centre of the Colruyt supermarket chain in Halle on Sunday night. Access to the site was restored on Monday morning, a Colruyt spokesperson said.
The remaining disruptions caused by farmers' protests on Monday morning are concentrated in Wallonia. Around 400 tractors have been parked since Sunday afternoon near the Daussoulx junction in Namur province where the E411 and E42 cross. They were due to leave after the morning rush hour.
In Luxembourg province, a group of tractors formed a blockade on the border with France, on the N89 at Beaubru, south of Bouillon. In Hainaut, the same thing happened on the E19 at Feluy. This section is closed at Houdeng-Goegnies, near La Louvière.
Over the weekend, farmers also blocked roads in Bastogne and Marche-en-Famenne, while protests took place on Sunday in the Flemish towns of Turnhout and Sint-Truiden.
The actions are part of wider protests in many European countries for better prices and less stringent European standards. In Flanders, the protests are also against the new nitrogen agreement, aimed at reducing nitrogen emissions, which was approved by the Flemish parliament last week.
Farmers protest at the Daussoulx interchange with highways E40 and E411 © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND / Farmers protest in Halle © BELGA VIDEO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK