french farmers are urged by unions to end roadblocks

The call from two main farmers’ unions came after President Emmanuel Macron’s government announced new financial aid and plans to loosen regulations to end the nationwide protests.

France’s main farmers’ unions called on Thursday for an end to roadblocks across the country after expressing cautious satisfaction with a flurry of new government announcements to appease them, in the first sign of a possible reprieve after more than a week of protests disrupted traffic nationwide.

It was not immediately clear whether the approximately 10,000 farmers at the 100 or so barricades would heed the union leaders’ call and go home after days of blocking key roads with tractors and bales of hay, including in Paris, to express a wide range of deeply rooted grievances.

The unions said that they would monitor closely the government’s promises of new financial aid and a loosening of regulations in the run-up to a major farming trade fair scheduled for this month in Paris.

“The action is not ending,” Arnaud Rousseau, president of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (the FNSEA), France’s largest and most powerful farmers’ union, said at a news conference in Paris. “It is transforming.”

The move came despite displays of broader fury against the European Union’s farming policies and environmental rules in neighboring Belgium, where thousands of farmers protested on the fringes of a gathering of E.U. leaders, throwing eggs and firecrackers at the police, who responded with water cannons. Farmer protests have also broken out in recent weeks in Portugal, Germany and Greece.

A protest near the European Parliament building in Brussels on Thursday.Sameer Al-Doumy/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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