Hundreds of tractors expected in Brussels amid ongoing farmers' protests

Dozens of tractors drove into the centre of Brussels on Monday morning, including the Grand Place. Ahead of a meeting of EU Agriculture ministers today, hundreds more tractors are expected to descend on the capital, where the farmers will protest in the European district.

The farmers are set to gather at 11.00 at the Schuman roundabout, resulting in both road and tunnel closures. "The inner Brussels ring road may be inaccessible to car traffic at certain times, as may the Arts-Loi junction. The streets in the vicinity of Rue de la Loi and the European district may also experience traffic disruption," local police said.

The police have advised commuters to take public transport as much as possible, with a preference for the metro and train, or to use other means of transport. Public transport operator STIB mainly expects disruption on tram lines and is recommending travellers use the metro or pre-metro. Trains are not stopping at Brussels Schuman station.


The action is an initiative of the European organisation Via Campesina (ECVC), which represents small and medium-sized agricultural companies. The General Farmers' Syndicate (ABS), Farmers' Forum and the United Young Farmers are represented on the Flemish side, while Walloon organisations such as Fugea, FWA (Fédération Wallonne de l'agriculture) and the young farmers of FJA (Fédération des jeunes agriculteurs) are also present.

Mercosur agreement

One of the largest demands from the organisations is for the EU to withdraw from free trade agreements, such as with the Mercosur countries. The ministers' meeting will discuss this treaty between the EU, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The EU-Mercosur trade agreement was created to increase the flow of goods between countries. In addition to reducing tariffs and quotas on meat and other goods, it includes measures to streamline food safety approvals in ways that could result in lower standards. This deal would negatively impact Western European farmers "who have been making a lot of efforts for years to produce ecological, sustainable and safe food and due to this deal are once again under pressure to produce cheaper", according to unions.

Beyond addressing the trade agreement, farmers also demand fair wages, a fully fledged agricultural and food policy and an adjustment of the nitrogen decree, which regulates emissions from agriculture and industry. Finally, they insist that farmland land remain agricultural and not transformed into a nature reserve or forest.

On 1 February, more than 1,000 tractors paralysed the Brussels as part of ongoing protests across Western Europe.



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