Press "Enter" to skip to content

Farmers in Greece, Spain escalate protests over sharp rise in costs

Thousands of Greek and Spanish farmers took to the streets on Tuesday in the latest demonstrations to hit the EU agriculture sector in recent weeks, voicing their discontent over rising costs and bureaucracy hurdles, while protests stretched on to Wednesday too.

More than 120 tractors paralyzed the center of Athens as farmers honked horns and chanted: “Without us, you have nothing to eat!” Other members of society also joined the demonstration.

The farmers had already traveled from all parts of Greece, including by ferry from the island of Crete, for the culmination of numerous blockades in recent weeks.

Greek farmers are demanding more subsidies and lower taxes after complaining about the sharp rise in fuel and fertilizer prices, as well as too much bureaucracy.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said there was no money spare.

“We have nothing more to give,” he told broadcaster Star. He pointed out that farmers had already been given concessions on electricity and diesel prices.

According to opinion polls, around 70% of Greeks have sympathy with the farmers’ protest, which continued on Wednesday as well. The farmers honked their tractor horns in front of parliament after spending the night in central Athens as their protest against rising fuel and production costs stretched into a second day.

Many spent the night on the square before beginning to move out on Wednesday.

“We made the move and now we are waiting for the result,” said farmer Konstantinos Kyriakopoulos, 34, from the southern Greek region of Messinia.

The farmers also say they have been hurt by climate change, with unpredictable flooding, extreme heat and wildfires making their work ever more hazardous.

The government has so far offered discounts on power bills and an extension of a tax rebate for agricultural diesel to the end of 2024. It also said it is willing to discuss a more permanent tax rebate scheme, but that there is no chance of further concessions this year.

Germany, France, and a number of other countries across Europe, have also been hit by major farmer protests in recent weeks.

Farmers in Spain plan a similar event to their Greek counterparts with 1,000 tractors outside the Agriculture Ministry in Madrid on Wednesday. On Tuesday, farmers began their journey to the capital having started their protests calling for “fair prices” two weeks ago.

“The demonstration will emphatically express the unease of farmers and livestock breeders in the face of the major crisis facing the sector,” the Union de Uniones said in a statement.

Spain is widely regarded as the fruit and vegetable garden of Europe.

Separately, French farmers also resumed protests on Wednesday, days ahead of the national agriculture show, the start of which has become a de facto deadline for the government to meet their demands.

Meanwhile, Polish farmers protested against cheap Ukrainian grain by unloading it in a separate action on Tuesday.

More from BusinessMore posts in Business »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *