France: Scuffle on the sidelines of the agricultural fair in Paris

As of: February 24, 2024 1:30 p.m

Farmers in several EU countries have been demonstrating against the policy for weeks – including France. Clashes broke out during President Macron’s visit to an agricultural trade fair. Macron tried to appease.

A clash broke out between farmers and security forces at the gates of an agricultural trade fair in Paris – shortly before French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to officially attend the industry meeting.

The farmers wanted to force their way into the exhibition center on the outskirts of the city in the morning around an hour before the event opened. They chanted “Macron resign” or “Macron go home.”

Macron called for calm

Meanwhile, the president had retreated to an emergency meeting with the official representatives of the various farmers’ unions on the upper floor of the exhibition building. He called on farmers to exercise restraint. The head of state said it would not be possible to respond to the agricultural crisis in a few hours.

He also presented measures that he now wants to take to ensure that farmers have a decent income in the future. These include rock-bottom prices for agricultural products and a special budget for farmers in financial distress.

President Macron speaks with members of the CR47 (Coordination rurale 47) union wearing yellow caps, flanked by Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Marc Fesneau and his deputy Agnes Pannier-Runacher on the opening day of the 60th international agricultural fair in Paris.

Planned debate sparked protests

The background was a debate planned by Macron at the agricultural fair, to which representatives from all trades were invited. Representatives of environmental organizations should also take part in this debate. But because the Soulevement de la terre – a group decried as “eco-terrorists” and which the government tried in vain to ban a few months ago – was supposedly on the invitation list, the farmers boycotted the debate.

Despite Macron’s assurances that it was a communication breakdown and that the group in question had not been invited, the planned debate had to be canceled.

The trade fair gates have now been opened to visitors. It is unclear whether the President will still be able to open the trade fair as planned and visit the various halls.

Protests in numerous EU countries

As in many other European countries, including Germany, farmers in France have been regularly protesting for weeks against high costs, bureaucracy, environmental regulations and cheap imports. The French government has already promised an aid package worth 400 million euros and a reduction in bureaucratic requirements. Smaller protests flared up again and again – on Wednesday, for example, trucks dumped rubble in front of a supermarket in the west of the country.

With information from Julia Borutta, ARD Paris

Julia Borutta, ARD Paris, tagesschau, February 24, 2024 12:23 p.m

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