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Protest Alliance of Eastern European Farmers

In a joint memorandum submitted to Euractiv, the Chambers of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Bulgaria rejected any restrictions of agricultural production. They are calling for the duty-free agreement between the EU and Ukraine to be annulled and for the rules of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to be simplified.

At the same time, farmers were called upon to drive tractors or other farm transport to border crossings to meet their colleagues from other countries. A special focus of the protest was on the Czech-Slovak border, where representatives of the Czech Chamber of Agriculture, the Slovak Chamber of Agriculture and Food, and the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture met and addressed their members.

First, they reject any mandatory limitation on the scale of agricultural production and call for “the abolition of all legislation that in any way puts European farmers at a disadvantage compared to farmers from third countries.” Farmers support the introduction of “mirror clauses” to prevent the import of goods that do not meet EU standards.

Second, the farmers are calling for the trade liberalization agreement between the EU and Ukraine to be revoked or substantially amended. “An import tax in the form of a refundable deposit must be levied on Ukrainian production for the duration of the war conflict, which will be refunded to traders when the goods are exported from the European market,” the chambers of agriculture demand. They also propose that all surpluses imported from Ukraine be processed into biofuels.

Third, the farmers are calling for simplification and a reduction in bureaucracy. In particular, they call for a reduction in physical controls and the effective use of the satellite monitoring system. Farmers are also calling for the permanent abolition of three “Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions” (GAEC) provisions of the CAP—GAEC 6, 7 and 8—which require minimum land cover, crop rotation, and a minimum percentage of farmland to be set aside.

Words of support have come from the Slovakian Minister of Agriculture Richard Takác: “This protest is primarily directed against the European Commission. Against the nonsense that the European Commission wants to decide on, against the diverse bureaucracy that turns farmers into civil servants,” Takáč commented on social media a few days ago. Slovakia in particular holds former EU Climate Commissioner and Commission Executive Vice President Franz Timmermans (2019-2023) responsible for pushing the Green Deal: “He is the one who caused this green mess and just ran away.” Timmermans is also attacked frequently by Czech farmers.

As for Ukraine, senior Polish activist Roman Kodrow said: “We farmers from all over Poland were the first to extend a friendly hand and welcome our brothers from Ukraine. And now we are being harmed by them. Various mafia organizations are bringing this grain to Poland. There is no other way to put it.”