Traffic disturbance expected on Monday with new tractor demonstration in Brussels

Traffic disturbance expected on Monday with new tractor demonstration in Brussels
Rows of tractors in the European district in Brussels on 1 February 2024. Credit: Belga/Hatim Kaghat

Farmers will again roll into Brussels with their tractors on Monday 26 February. Police have warned that traffic problems will likely occur across the region as a result as several roads and tunnels will be closed.

Another protest in the capital of Belgium had been announced earlier this month with the Walloon farmers' federation FUGEA stating its intentions to protest in Brussels for the second time on Monday 26 February, coinciding with a meeting of European agriculture ministers. The City of Brussels/ Ixelles police zone has now confirmed the protest will go ahead, adding that traffic disruption is to be expected.

"Traffic problems may occur on the territory of the Brussels Region," the zone's communication team wrote in a statement. "Most of the participants in the demonstration will already be moving via various approach roads from early in the morning."

Police warned that throughout the day (from 06:00), the rue de la Loi (between Schuman and the R20), the Reyer Tunnel coming from the E40 towards the city centre and the Cinquantenaire Tunnel towards Loi will be closed. The farmers are expected to gather at Schuman at 11:00.

Tractors blocking the road at a protest action in the European district on Thursday 01 February 2024. Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

It added that the small Brussels ring road may be inaccessible to cars at "certain times", as well as the Arts-Loi intersection. Streets in the vicinity of Rue de la Loi and the European quarter may also experience traffic disruption, as was the case during the first protest at the start of this month. Police were then forced to close off the centre of the European Quarter, including Place du Luxembourg, as farmers had taken over these streets.

"The problems may persist into the late afternoon," police have stated. "We advise against coming to Brussels by car and recommend using public transport, with a preference for metro and train, or using other means of transport."

Public transport operator STIB has confirmed it expects disruption to its network along the route of the farmers' demonstration and on approach roads to the European Quarter.

Tram lines 7, 25, 39, 44, 62, 81, 92 and 93, and bus lines 12, 21, 27, 29, 34, 38, 46, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 71, 74, 75, 79, 80 and 95 may be severely disrupted depending on the progress of the processions. It advises travellers to use the metro or premetro.

"Those run underground and are not affected by the traffic disruption," said spokesperson Guy Sablon. "Those who want to stay informed should check our real-time information at the stops, on our website and in the app."

Real progress needed

It is not yet clear how many participants are expected. The last protest saw around 1,200 tractors across the region. Walloon farmers will be supported on Monday by several other groups based in Wallonia and one Flemish organisation.

The demonstration is also an initiative by the European organisation Via Campesina (ECVC), which represents small and medium-sized farms, among others. European farmers elsewhere have expressed support, though not necessarily attendance at the protest.

FUGEA said that it will keep up the pressure until "real progress" is made. Among other things, the organisation is asking the EU to withdraw from free trade agreements, to halt negotiations on the EU-Mercosur agreement, and to guarantee a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to support agro-ecological practices.

The largest farmers' organisation in Flanders, Boerenbond, is not actively calling for demonstrations as different policy levels have already proposed measures. The group said it will be looking into what that brings in concrete terms in the coming weeks.

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