Flemish government holds 'constructive' talks with farmers
The Flemish government met with representatives of farmers' organisations on Friday morning. Farmers have been protesting all week across Flanders, calling for fewer rules, more legal certainty and better protection for the agricultural sector.
Minister president Jan Jambon, of Flemish nationalists N-VA, described the meeting, which lasted around two hours, as a "constructive conversation" and promised "further consultations" with the sector. Farmers' organisations said they were satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, but called for quick results "so that calm can return".
Before the meeting, Lode Ceyssens, president of farmers' union Boerenbond, said he wanted to focus on "ending the administrative patronage" of farmers in Belgium, as well as ensuring "more legal certainty" and "the protection of farmland".
Maarten Moermans, interim chair of the Groene Kring assoication, expects "a clear signal from the government that things are going to change", while ABS president Hendrik Vandamme demands that the Flemish government put an end to "the acquisition policy whereby forest and nature areas are expanded to the detriment of agriculture".
Issues with nitrogen policy
The organisations are also unhappy with the Flemish nitrogen decree on regulating emissions. According to Environment minister Zuhal Demir of N-VA, this is mainly because there has been uncertainty for years. "It is good that after 20 years we have an agreement backed by science, and that there exists a framework for issuing permits," she said.
Also on Friday, prime minister Alexander De Croo said he felt that Belgian and European politicians had met the agriculture sector halfway and that his government intended to continue working with the sector in the coming weeks. "I think now is the time to give up the blockades," he told Radio 1.
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