Many major arteries connecting Europe have been obstructed or brought to a standstill in recent days by a wave of protests by farmers against what they claim are overly burdensome environmental targets and unsustainable levels of bureaucracy associated with EU and national farming regulations.
The warning shots of this showdown between policymakers and farmers had already been fired on 1st October 2019, when more than 2,000 Dutch tractors caused traffic mayhem in the Netherlands in response to an announcement that livestock farms would have to be bought out and shut down to reduce nitrogen emissions. Early last year, Polish farmers blocked the border with the Ukraine demanding the re-imposition of tariffs on Ukrainean grain.
But it was not until early this year that an EU-wide protest was ignited. German and French protests and tractor blockades made international news, and the blockades were soon replicated in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, and Ireland. Major highways and ports were blocked and manure was poured over government buildings, as farmers across Europe expressed their frustration at rising farming costs, falling prices for their produce, and crippling environmental regulations that made their products uncompetitive in the global market.