Fires blazed outside EU institution buildings on Monday, February 26, as the EU-wide farmers' protests returned to the streets of Brussels. (Peter Caddle/Brussels Signal)


Brussels burns as farm protests return to the EU capital


Fires blazed outside buildings belonging to the EU institutions on the morning of February 26, as the EU-wide farmers’ protests returned to the streets of Brussels.

Demonstrators set up large bonfires of refuse, hay bales, and tyres along the roads outside the European Commission’s Berlaymont building headquarters, to draw attention to their demands that the EU take action to help the struggling agricultural industry.

Speaking to Brussels Signal, protesters said they were frustrated at the European Union’s recent actions, with many saying recent concessions by the Commission had only made them feel angrier.

“They do not listen to us,” said one demonstrator who did not wish to be filmed. “I do not know what it is like in the parties — behind closed doors — but we are all very angry.”

The protestors wanted to see the EU’s common agricultural policies reformed to better protect European farmers, said a representative of the Fédération Wallonne de l’Agriculture, the chief farmers’ union in French-speaking south Belgium.

“We hope we will have some modification of the common agricultural policies about control and so on,” said the spokesperson, adding that many farmers also sought minimum price controls.

While the majority of protestors were peaceful, some demonstrators clashed with police and other emergency services.

Brussels Signal witnessed several fireworks being thrown at European buildings, with online footage showing some protesters making attempts to tear down police barricades with their tractors.

The demonstrations come at a time of rising unrest within the European agriculture industry.

Many of these tensions have played out in France. Hundreds of farmers stormed a major agricultural fair in Paris over the weekend to confront the country’s President Emmanuel Macron.

That incident led to clashes with police,  with reports of six arrests and eight police officers injured.