Major protests by farmers and truckers have entered their third day in Romania, with demonstrators breaking through police blockades in Bucharest.
Tensions escalated at the entrance roads to Bucharest as protestors paralysed traffic with their own road blockages on January 12.
Dozens of trucks halted traffic, causing chaos on the circular motorway of the capital while, at the time of writing, more were en route to the capital.
The situation was described as “unfolding with a little tension, but in order, calmly, under control,” by Minister for Internal Affairs Cătălin Predoiu.
Agriculture minister Florin-Ionuț Barbu said he had not received communication from the protesting farmers: “At the moment, no one has come, no negotiation team, to the Ministry of Agriculture.”
Some online sources claimed that agriculture and transport ministers had sent their advisors to negotiate with the demonstrators.
The protest, which began on January 10, involves demands from transport drivers and farmers over issues including controls on the flow of Ukrainian grain and agricultural goods.
They also want to draw attention to several issues they say are hurting the agriculture and transport sectors, such as “inefficient, delayed border controls” and truck-driver taxes. They also want measures to protect Romanian agriculture from “foreign investors”.
Skyrocketing insurance premiums have also been cited as a major bugbear.
As covered previously in Brussels Signal, Romania’s insurance market has been in chaos over what some in the media have alleged is the Government’s anti-competitive behaviour.
The European Union’s oversight bodies appear uninterested, further heightening the protestors’ anger.
The European Unions’s financial overseers have seemingly dodged serious questions from the European Parliament amid a brewing financial scandal in Romania. https://t.co/xxUx0Wa8J2
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 24, 2023
Bucharest City Hall had received a request for protests to take place but officials deemed it invalid, citing a lack of specific information.
“It is submitted by a natural person. The time interval, the number of people who want to participate, the route they want to follow, and the organisations they represent are not specified,” the City Hall reported.
Protestors with scores of tractors and trucks continue to gather at an entrance to the capital in Afumați. Alex Perțea, a representative, stated: “We are regrouping to continue our protest.
“As a location, we are not very decided on the direction from this point. For now, we are regrouping. We are in the Afumați area, right at the entrance, on the beltway.”
An emergency meeting at the Bucharest City Hall has been scheduled to address the protest situation, which remains fluid.
As the stand-off continues, the authorities remain on high alert, navigating the delicate balance between citizens’ right to protest and the necessity to maintain public order.