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Farmers start a 'siege' of Paris and raise tension

Photo: Bertrand Guay Agence France-Presse French farmers began blocking traffic Monday afternoon near Jossigny, about 60 miles northwest of Paris.

France Media Agency in Paris

1:29 p.m.

  • Europe

The mobilization of farmers throughout Europe reached a new milestone on Monday in France with the start of the “siege” of Paris, which raised fears of a “week of all dangers” between angry peasants and security forces. 'French order.

Detentions are now taking place on at least four highways a few dozen km from Paris, according to the government website Sytadin, in operations supervised by the police.

In total, eight motorway “blocking points” have been planned by the main trade unions, in order to create a “siege of the capital” announced “for an indefinite period”.

And according to the gendarmerie, 30 departments are affected, by various actions

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Faced with the risk of excesses, 15,000 members of the police were mobilized. As of Sunday evening, a large device including armored gendarmerie vehicles had been deployed near Rungis, the largest fresh produce market in the world, south of Paris, AFP noted.

European revolt

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, gave “instructions” to “guarantee that tractors do not go to Paris and large cities so as not to create extremely serious difficulties”.< /p>

In the afternoon he brought together several ministers at the Élysée for an “update on the agricultural situation”. He must then leave for Sweden on Tuesday and Wednesday, before an extraordinary European Council in Brussels on Thursday.

There he will discuss with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the support measures expected by farmers. The exchange will focus in particular on the freezing of the trade agreement that the European Union is negotiating with Mercosur and the arrival of Ukrainian products in the union, according to the French presidency.

The bosses of the unions which announced the “siege” of Paris, the FNSEA (National Federation of Farmers' Unions) and the JA (Young Farmers), are also invited at the end of the day -noon to a meeting with the head of the French government, Gabriel Attal, while the executive announced “new measures from [Tuesday]”.

Between highway blockages and tractor parades, agricultural discontent first manifested itself in December and January in Germany, before affecting France, but also Romania, Poland, and Belgium.

While dozens of tractors organized a snail operation on Sunday on a motorway in southern Belgium, and several ports were blocked Monday by German farmers, including that of Hamburg, the largest in the country, the siege of Paris resonates like a new course in European mobilization.

Explosion of imports

Extreme climatic episodes, avian flu, soaring fuel prices or even an influx of Ukrainian products exempt from customs duties, there is no shortage of common factors of discontent.

The new European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has strengthened environmental obligations since 2023, and the legislation of the European “Green Deal” (or “Green Deal”) – even if they are not yet in force. vigor — particularly crystallize anger.

France may well be the first beneficiary of European agricultural subsidies with more than nine billion euros per year (more than CA$13 billion), its farmers denounce a CAP which they believe is disconnected from the field.

“France is one of the only major agricultural countries whose market shares are declining,” pointed out a French senatorial report in September 2022. In twenty years, it has gone from second to sixth place in the world for its exports — and third in Europe, after the Netherlands and Germany.

“Food imports into France are exploding: they have doubled since 2000 and sometimes represent more than half of the foodstuffs consumed in France in certain families”, continued this study.

European farmers denounce unfair competition, in particular because imported products are generally not subject to the same regulations.

Responding to anger

The number of agricultural holdings in France has also been divided by four in 50 years: from 1.5 million in 1970, there are now less than 400,000.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who visited one of them on Sunday, vowed to “move quickly” to respond to the anger, after announcing on Friday the abandonment of the increase in a tax on tractor diesel and heavy sanctions against agri-food manufacturers who do not respect price laws.

Insufficient measures for the protesters.

The sequence which opens on Monday is that of a “week of all dangers, either because the government does not hear us, or because the anger will be such that everyone will then take their responsibilities”, warned Arnaud Rousseau, the president of the FNSEA.

The current movement is the third major crisis facing the executive since the start of Emmanuel Macron's second five-year term, after the pension reform which had triggered massive popular demonstrations throughout the country in 2023, and the adoption of a controversial immigration law in December.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116