Polish farmers march against ‘green poison’ EU climate change rules

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 7:07 AM

By Kuba Stezycki

WARSAW (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of the Polish capital Warsaw on Friday to show their opposition to European Union environmental regulations that farmers say are driving them out of business.

Farmers were joined by representatives of other branches of the Solidarity trade union, which organised the protest, such as miners and workers from the automotive sector.

Farmers in Poland and elsewhere in the bloc have been protesting in recent months against cheap food imports from Ukraine and restrictions placed on them by the EU’s Green Deal to tackle climate change.

In a sea of red and white Polish flags and Solidarity banners, the protesters, many wearing yellow high-visibility vests, brandished placards with slogans like “Down with the Green Deal, Down with the European Union” and “Green Poison”.

“The only thing it’s good for is throwing in the bin,” said retired farmer Wieslaw Czerwinski from Grojec, in central Poland, when asked about the Green Deal.

“It raises the costs of production, raises costs every day, costs of heating, costs of energy.”

The protesters were joined by politicians from the previous nationalist government, who accuse Donald Tusk’s pro-European administration of yielding to Brussels at the expense of regular Poles.

Tusk’s government dismisses such claims and says that their predecessors damaged Poland’s relations with Western allies while failing to take action to help sectors such as agriculture.

Farmers have already won concessions from the EU and the Polish government, which said it would pay 2.1 billion zlotys ($526.74 million) in subsidies to compensate farmers for low grain prices, but they say it is not enough.

However, last month they decided to unblock border crossings with Ukraine, lifting a blockade that had dragged on for months, soured bilateral relations and buffeted Ukraine’s trade.

($1 = 3.9868 zlotys)

(Reporting by Kuba Stezycki, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Alan Charlish; Editing by Alex Richardson)