The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Second day of major farmers’ protests in Spain

Bureaucracy, unfair competition from imports, environmental regulations that are too high and producer prices that are too low - the complaints of Spanish farmers are similar to those in other EU countries. There is also a local problem.

For the second day in a row, Spanish farmers obstructed traffic in many parts of the country on Wednesday by driving slowly and blocking roads. In Barcelona, farmers with around 1,000 tractors were on their way to the city center at midday to demonstrate for higher incomes and better working conditions, as the state television station RTVE reported.

There were also protests in nine other autonomous communities, which correspond to the Swiss cantons. Spain is considered the fruit and vegetable garden of Europe.

EU agricultural policy criticized

Farmers blame the EU agricultural policy in particular for the situation in agriculture. The bureaucratic hurdles for EU agricultural aid are too high, environmental requirements are almost impossible to meet, agricultural imports from countries with lower standards are unfair competition and the prices for their products are too low.

They are also calling for the tax reduction on agricultural diesel to be maintained. In parts of Catalonia and Andalusia, farmers are also angry because they have to save 80 percent of water due to the severe drought.

The left-wing government in Madrid promised to campaign for a reduction in bureaucratic hurdles and more appropriate producer prices. The day before, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had already reacted to the farmers' protests in other EU countries such as Germany and France and announced that she would withdraw a proposal for an environmental protection law against the excessive use of pesticides.

Farmers' spokespeople emphasized that the protests would continue until the demands were met. Farmers had already blocked highways, country roads and access roads to ports, large markets and industrial areas throughout Spain on Tuesday. In some cases, traffic jams stretched for miles.

Protests are also taking place in Bulgaria

The nationwide farmers' protests also continued in Bulgaria on Wednesday with traffic blockades. The agricultural associations are demanding compensation for cheaper Ukrainian imports.

Farmers blocked important traffic junctions and important roads such as the E79 to Greece with their machines for around three hours. Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov offered farmers' representatives a meeting on Wednesday evening.

©Keystone/SDA

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