Main agricultural unions end blockades but will return if they see no progress

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Paris, Feb 1 (EFE). – The main French agricultural unions on Thursday called for an end to the blockades they have maintained for two weeks to protest conditions in the sector but warned they will mobilize again if the government does not fulfill its promises.

The unions’ decision came a few hours after French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and the economy, agriculture, and ecological transition ministers outlined new policies to respond to the sector’s demands.

Attal announced that imports of food products from other countries treated with pesticides or other products banned in the EU will be subject to a ban.

The Prime Minister also promised new financial aid packages, such as 150 million euros for livestock farming, the simplification of red tape, measures to encourage generational renewal, and controls on products advertised as French but which have other origins.

No to the Mercosur treaty

On Thursday, the unions and the French government reiterated France’s rejection of the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement (Common Market of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

The French government is demanding reciprocity clauses in agreements with other economic blocs so that their products are subject to the same rules as European farmers.

Macron insisted that the rules must be “the same for everyone,” Speaking at an extraordinary EU meeting in Brussels.

He also said his government would take other proposals to Brussels, such as simplifying bureaucratic rules and regulations.

Agricultural unions have been very critical of the EU, which they see as too technocratic and far removed from the farmers’ reality.

The president of the FNSEA denounced the “deafness” of Brussels to the demands of the farmers, who have protested not only in France but also in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain.

French unions have set June – the month of the European Parliament elections – as the deadline to see the improvements promised on Thursday, or they’ll resume protests and blockades.

Skepticism on the ground

On the streets, at the blockades organized by the peasants, the promises of the French government were greeted with hope but also with skepticism.

“Until the papers are signed, we will not move from here,” assured Damien Greffin, FNSEA vice-president, microphone in hand, on a makeshift stage at one of the blockade points in the capital, on the A6 highway south of Paris.

Minority unions such as the Confédération Paysanne have called for the blockades to be maintained. EFE

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