French and Spanish farmers blockade roads ahead of European elections

Farmers are planning a reprise of the road blockades seen at the start of the year, with the intention of raising their concerns ahead of the European elections.

The joint action by French and Spanish farmers began early on Monday, targeting highways and crossing points on the border.

Local authorities in France “strongly recommend” postponing cross-border journeys made by car – rail routes are unaffected.

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Eight border crossing points were targeted by protesters, while blockades and rolling roadblocks are underway on motorways – the A9 in France has been blocked since 7am while the A63 and A64 are experiencing severe disruption with rolling roadblocks in place.

Farmers blocked the autoroute at Le Perthus, near Perpignan, and set up giant pans to cook lunch for their fellow protesters.

Cooks prepare food as French and Spanish farmers block a highway on the border between Spain and France, at Le Perthus near Perpignan on June 3, 2024. Photo by Ed JONES / AFP

Actions are also planned for the péages (toll points) at Biriatou, Col du Pourtalet and the Somport Tunnel.

The motorways in Spain that are affected by the blockades are in Catalonia (N-230/N-125 Bossòst, N-145 La Seu D’Urgell, N-152/N-20 Puigcerdà-la Guingueta d’Ix, C-38/D-115 Coll D’Ares and AP-7/E-9 la Jonquera-el Voló), the Basque Country (roads between Irun and Biriatou) and Aragón (N-330 between Canfranc and Sallent de Gállego).

French and Spanish farmers block the border between Spain and France at the Biriatou crossing point on June 3. Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP

The action has largely been organised on a local level without the involvement of the major farming unions.

Huge protests from farmers succeeded in bringing large parts of the French road network to a halt in January and February, but were halted after a series of promises from the French government.

However, many of the issues that farmers complained about are decided at an EU level, hence the renewed protests ahead of voting for the European elections, which takes place between June 6th and 9th.

“When I talk to the government, they tell me that 80 percent of agricultural legislation is decided in Brussels, so we’ve understood that the battle is no longer national, it’s European,” said Jérôme Bayle, a cattle farmer from Haute-Garonne who became a figure in the agricultural protest movement at the beginning of the year.

“We’re not asking for the earth, just for Europe to be standardised in terms of regulations and taxes.”

The French-Spanish border became a flashpoint for protests at the start of the year, with French farmers complaining that cheaper Spanish imports undercut their produce – several Spanish lorries were seized with their loads burned.

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However this protest has the support of some Spanish farmers, who have organised coordinated protests via Telegram groups.

One group calling itself Revolta Pagesa (Peasant Revolt) is a Catalan group that says it is fighting “in defence of the land” and “for food sovereignty”.

The Local Barcelona News