Europe’s Farmer Protests Are Part of a Bigger Problem

Foreign Policy Magazine
2024.02.20

After months of protests by outraged farmers in cities across the continent, European lawmakers are struggling with how to quell the anger sparked in part by new green agricultural regulations—a backlash that has underscored the difficult trade-offs confronting governments as they navigate the energy transition.

To hit ambitious climate targets, European leaders have unveiled a raft of measures that would overhaul the agricultural sector, an industry that accounts for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet those policies have infuriated tens of thousands of European farmers, who have staged massive protests to voice their frustrations with the economic strains of the latest climate regulations; soaring production costs; and cheap foreign imports, particularly from countries with less stringent rules.

Demonstrations continued to roil Europe this week as hundreds of Czech and Greek farmers poured into the streets of Prague and Athens, the latest in a wave of protests that has swept all but four European countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. In some cities, enraged farmers have resorted to dumping loads of manure and hurling eggs at city buildings; others have used their tractors to blockade ports and roads.

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