The European district of Brussels saw farmers from across Europe protesting agricultural budget cuts under the new proposal.
With over 100 tractors spread across the area, farmers of all ages from many member groups turned out to demonstrate during the meeting of EU leaders on Thursday.
But, why were they there?
Speaking to The Brussels Times, Jannes Maes – President of the Young Farmer’s Association CEJA – was given 20 seconds to explain what was happening, and why they as young farmers were there.
A statement issued by Maes ahead of the protest added further detail to the reasoning.
“It will be impossible for the EU to have its ‘man on the moon moment’, to use the words of President von der Leyen, without strong financial backing for each of its ambitions. The budget being proposed is inadequate. It is the equivalent of trying to get that person to the moon using only a rope ladder,” he said.
The protests against the budget cuts for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) compared to the current programming period in the future EU budget were motivated by a recently published draft of the proposal.
The percentage of the EU budget spent on the CAP has seen a sharp decline over the past 25 years, according to Commission data, decreasing from 73% in 1985 to 37.2% in 2018. This downward trend can be explained by “CAP reforms and the growing share of other EU policies,” the data, published in 2019, adds.
By 1:30 PM, several more groups – as well as around 100 tractors – had appeared in the European zone, ultimately wrapping up with speeches from the heads of some of the groups present.
While police were there in large numbers – primarily for providing security for the council meeting – no violent behaviour was seen.