With croissants and milk from local farmers to hand, on Monday morning the Fédération Wallonne de l’Agriculture (FWA – the Walloon Agricultural Federation) and the Boerenbond (Belgian Farmers Union) provided breakfast to the Belgian agriculture ministers Willy Borsus (of the federal government), Joke Schauvliege (from the Flanders government) and René Collin (of the Walloon government). Representatives from both trade unions reiterated their demands before accompanying the Federal Minister for Agriculture to a European Council meeting considered crucial for European agriculture.
According to Laurent Gomand, Vice-President of the FWA, “the Belgian ministers listened to our demands but this is has now become a problem for the Commission and some member states. We demand results as from today (Monday). This will require regulation of European agricultural markets allowing both for stablisation and a reasonable income for farmers. We want the right prices and production regulation. There is, of course, no question of a return, yet again, to selective forms of aid which only turn out to simply be a sticking plaster on a wooden leg.”
The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Willy Borsus gave assurances that he would fight for the implementation of temporary market regulation in times of crisis. “I will also fight for the concept of sector support with a view to lowering farmers’ costs, particularly in the energy sphere”, emphasized the federal minister. He also gave assurances that he has had preliminary bilateral discussions with the European Council.
The Walloon minister, René Collin, spoke of agreeing with the demands of these organisations, which represent the sector, and demanding firm decisions from today. The Flemish Minister for Agriculture Joke Schauvliege also stressed the importance of working on the issue of production. Farming trade unions accompanied Mr Borsus to the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels (the headquarters of European Council) where the European Council agricultural meeting is taking place. A small farm has been set up on Rue de la Loi. Visitors may taste various products within the vicinity of the farmers demonstration being held in the Brussels European Quarter.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)