In response to the D19-20 alliance’s call for protest, a demonstration rallying over 3,000 people according to the organisers and 2,000 according to the police, took place on Friday between 9:00am and 12:30pm in the European neighbourhood. The demonstration waas staged to protest against budgetary austerity policies and against the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). No incidents were reported although traffic was disrupted around the Schuman roundabout and along the route the demonstration took. The tractors were redirected to the ring road under federal police motorcycle escort.
As early as 9:30am, the main group which congregated at the eastern entrance to Avenue de la Joyeuse went on the move to join the picket line of protesters on Avenue Cortenbergh. Both groups then joined forces and travelled to Archimedes Street, where tractors were holding up traffic. This larger group formed a procession which set of at around 10:00am, waling to the Maelbeek Metro Station and Rue Belliard, before making their way back to Avenue de la Joyeuse. Three tractors showed their support by parking in front of Food and Drink Europe in Avenue des Nerviens.
“Although the EU summit was already over by this time, the demonstration received good support,” said Sebastian, one of the organisers, “showing that citizens feel the need to join the fight against the TTIP. We are calling on people to get involved in the World Day against the TTIP, due to be held on April 18th.” One of the farmers taking part in Alliance D19-20’s demonstration, Luke Hollands, who travelled to Brussels from Fourons in a tractor, is against the TTIP measures which will open up European markets to the USA. “For farmers, this means that the race to be competitive will put downward pressure on markets and prices will shoot down. And the day will come that multinationals have a monopoly that will enable them to set prices as they see fit. In Wallonia, there are hardly any independent dairies left as it is.”