Farmers’ Fury Spreads Across Europe As Demonstrators Encircle Paris and Brussels to Protest Climate Regulations

Farmers have taken to the streets in European capitals to protest onerous European Union climate regulations and cuts to fuel subsidies that have caused incomes to decline and costs to rise.


Farmers have taken to the streets in European capitals to protest onerous European Union climate regulations and cuts to fuel subsidies that have caused incomes to decline and costs to rise.

  • Convoys of tractors lined the streets of Brussels near the EU’s headquarters on Thursday to demand EU leaders put agriculture on their agenda and provide relief for the continent’s farmers from regulations, reduced subsidies and time-consuming bureaucracy.
  • Protesters lit bales of hay in the streets, threw firecrackers, eggs, and beer bottles at law enforcement, and pulled down a statue in front of the European Parliament as EU leaders met nearby. 
  • Farmers have been protesting for weeks across continental Europe, but Thursday’s protests are the first to take place at the EU’s front door. The protests took European leaders by surprise and have earned widespread public support.
  • French farmers launched a “siege of Paris” and encircled the capital city with hundreds of tractors to protest the soaring cost of energy and fertilizers and the rise of cheap imported food. The farmers also complained that EU red tape is hurting their competitiveness and policies to aid Ukraine by accepting new imports of agricultural products have undercut them at home.
  • Despite the traffic disruptions caused by the protests, recent polls have found that the farmers’ movement has widespread public support. Two recent polls found the farmers have the backing of around 9 in 10 French voters, spanning the political divide.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times interviewed Jérôme Bayle, a former professional rugby player who is “widely credited with sparking a national protest movement of farmers that this week brought their grievances to the capital, blocking highways into Paris.”
  • The Guardian interviewed organic farmers about the “urgency” of the farmers’ protests, which took the French government “by surprise by the scale and fury of grassroots farmer demonstrations.” The decline in sales among Europe’s farmers has led to “a catastrophe” for organic farmers across the continent and in France in particular.
  • CNN observed that despite the protests, farming issues are not on the agenda at the upcoming EU summit. Farmers argue the EU’s decision to waive “quotas and duties on Ukrainian imports in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” has created unfair competition that’s disproportionately hurt the EU’s agriculture sector.



  • The Wall Street Journal observed that behind the protests “lies a deeper social and economic fault line.” The Journal noted that the EU’s deficit targets have led national governments to cut fuel subsidies for farmers, which has “whipsawed farmers across Europe and stoked support for far-right parties.”
  • Breitbart reported some French farmers are planning to broaden their efforts and “impose a blockade on Brussels,” the capital of the European Union. The EU “is slowly becoming a major foe of agriculture, imposing onerous environmental regulations on agriculture while at the same time allowing food produced cheaper in other parts of the world without such stringent standards to freely flow into Europe, and thereby undercutting local farmers.”
  • “Near Beauvais, north of Paris, dozens of tractors lined the highway in one of many such protests across the country, displaying banners that read:  ‘Our end will be your hunger’ – a play on the similar-sounding French words fin (end) and faim (hunger),” the Telegraph reported. “Armored police vehicles were deployed to Rungis on Monday after some farmers threatened to ‘occupy’ it. Over 8,000 tons of goods pass through its market every day to feed nearly 12 million people.”

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© Dominic Moore, 2023