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Poland: Farmers protest against EU climate policies

May 10, 2024

Polish farmers have held a protest against the EU's Green Deal, which aims to make the bloc climate-neutral by 2050. Politicians from the former nationalist government also joined the demonstrators.

Crowd of protesters seen from above
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Warsaw to protest the European Green DealImage: Pawel Supernak/PAP/dpa/picture alliance

Several thousand farmers, many in yellow vests, and other protesters marched through the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Friday to protest EU climate regulations they say are endangering their livelihoods.

The march, which took as its slogan "Down with the Green Deal," was called by Solidarity, a farmers' trade union that vigorously opposes the EU's climate-related farming policies.

What do the protesters object to?

Solidarity says the EU's European Green Deal imposes restrictions that interfere with their work and cause higher costs.

One banner read "Let Brussels eat worms, we prefer pork chops and potatoes," a reference to a widespread belief that the EU will advocate eating insects and worms rather than meat from livestock, the keeping of which produces large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Polen Bauernprotest in Warschau
The protest was organized by farmers' union SolidarityImage: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Some protesters also lashed out at imports of Ukrainian farm produce that they said were reducing their revenues, while others more generally condemned the policies of the current pro-EU coalition government under Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Farmers' protests across the bloc have already caused the EU to back down from or delay a number of intended measures to protect the environment, including a plan to cut pesticide use by half and an obligation for farmers to set aside more land to nature.

Agriculture is a major emitter of the greenhouse gases that are causing dangerous global warming, as well as a destroyer of biodiversity.

Political participation

The demonstration was also attended by some lawmakers from the former nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) government, who accused the present administration of kowtowing to the EU while ignoring the needs of ordinary Poles.

Tusk has undertaken to reverse many of the PiS' policies, which put Poland at loggerheads with the EU over issues such as rule of law and freedom of the press.

Among other things, he and his team are taking measures to free the judiciary and the state media from undue influence by the government.

 tj/lo (AP, AFP, Reuters)