Now POLISH farmers block border crossings with Ukraine as they protest the EU’s “Green Deal” policies


Thousands of Polish farmers expressed their disgust and exasperation as they launched on Feb. 9 a month-long nationwide strike that has already staged blockades at 250 locations and sealed border crossings into Ukraine. The agriculture workers are protesting the European Union's (EU's) ideologically driven "Green Deal" policies and the flooding of European markets with agricultural products from international agro-holdings in Ukraine.

Videos and images circulating on social media show long lines of tractors at several border crossings and highways around cities throughout the country. The nation's Polsat news channel reported that police in Warsaw issued traffic warnings for much of the nation, particularly at the Ukraine border.

"Our patience has run out," the farmers said. Apart from the European Commission's stance on Ukrainian agricultural imports, the inaction of the Polish authorities and their declarations of cooperation with the European Commission, along with the Polish government's announcement to respect all decisions regarding the import of agricultural produce and food products from Ukraine, leave them no choice but to declare a massive uprising.

"We ask our compatriots for understanding and awareness of the situation we all find ourselves in. We are fighting for our common good, which is to prevent the collapse and bankruptcy of Polish family farms, often multi-generational. Where possible, we ask to avoid travel in the affected areas," the farmers stated before the protest even started.

Because of the strike, Polish politicians called on the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski to step down. "There is a man in Europe who united all European and Polish farmers against the reform he proposed. This is Janusz Wojciechowski. Resign!" said Deputy Prime Minister Wladys?aw Kosiniak-Kamysz.

The leader of the former ruling Law and Justice (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who also proposed him for the position, likewise criticized the commissioner and said he would personally ask him to quit. In response, Wojciechowski told Polsat News that he had not answered or looked at his telephone. He also defended his record, saying that he was the only commissioner to have opposed imports from Ukraine.

According to a Reuters report, the EU will need €1.5 trillion per year in investments to achieve its net-zero emissions goal by 2050, according to research supported by the European lawmakers. This week, the European Commission is expected to recommend that the EU reduce its net emissions by 90 percent by 2040 compared to 1990 levels. It will also outline a massive increase in investments needed to set Europe on the path to achieving zero net emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, a separate organization of Polish farmers earlier blocked a key border crossing with Ukraine, but the protest was suspended on Jan. 6 after the new left-liberal government agreed to its demands.

Italian and Spanish farmers follow suit

On the other side of Europe, Italian and Spanish farmers are also taking part in ongoing protests against the EU agricultural policies. In Italy, a small convoy of tractors moved across Rome's historical center to the Colosseum on Friday morning, escorted by police patrols. The farm workers have been peacefully protesting outside of the Eternal City and across the country for days to express their discontent.

Italy's Premier Giorgia Meloni said that her government has already addressed some of the farmers' key requests. She stressed that she already earmarked an extra three billion euros from the Italian chunk of the EU's post-pandemic recovery funds, raising total resources dedicated to the agricultural sector to eight billion euros. At a roundtable with her ministers and some delegates of the main agricultural associations but without representatives of the protests, she also agreed to extend an income tax exemption for farmers in force since 2017, but only for low-income earners.

Many Italian farmers, however, complain they don't feel represented by large sector associations. Later on Friday, a few protest representatives met separately with Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, but that move didn't stop a new convoy of hundreds of tractors from starting a procession on Rome’s main motorway ring road.

Meanwhile, farmers in Spain also mounted their protest. Apart from EU policies, they maintained that a law aimed at guaranteeing that wholesale major supermarket buyers pay fair prices for their goods isn't being enforced while consumer prices soar. The demonstrations are expected to continue over the coming weeks with a major protest being organized in the capital for Feb. 21. Several Spanish media reports have linked many of the protests to conservative and hard-right groups. Police said that 20 people have been arrested during this week's demonstrations.

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