Around 500 French winegrowers from the departments of Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales blocked the Le Perthus border crossing with Spain this morning to demand an end to imports and looted several Spanish trucks.
The protesters, who burned tires at the motorway tollbooth in Le Boulou, proceeded to filter the vehicles entering from Spain and looted, first a truck with tomatoes, and then another with wine and a third with cava.
The police stood by
They dumped the contents of the load on the asphalt without the law enforcement, who remained at a distance, intervening at any time.
The Prefecture (government delegation) of the Eastern Pyrenees explained to EFE that the winegrowers emptied the cargo from Spanish trucks, but did not give any information about the inaction of the law enforcement forces.
He did specify that the protesters had completely closed entrance 43 of the highway in Le Boulou and had reduced the passage at the toll to two lanes, through which they allowed light vehicles and “some trucks” to circulate after filtering them.
The Prefecture had asked mid-morning to avoid the area due to the possibility of “strong slowdowns.”
A part of the protesters had begun their action in Narbonne, where the president of the Aude Winegrowers’ Union, Frédéric Rouanet, announced that they were going to “stop Spanish imports”, which they accuse of causing the collapse of many farms in the south of France with prices much lower than theirs.
Their complaints are directed in particular against the bulk wine that arrives from Spain and which in most cases is bottled in France for marketing.
Spanish farmers demand measures
The agricultural organizations Asaja, COAG and UPA have demanded that the authorities take measures against the attack on their products in France, after the blockade that occurred this morning.
The president of Asaja in La Rioja, Eduardo Pérez, has rejected, in statements to Efeagro, that “the French police did not take measures” to prevent it and has demanded that the authorities “take action on the matter.” He has considered that these types of acts “are common practices with different food products” and this time he has targeted purchases of Spanish wine in France.
“Every year wine purchases are made but, if the price of bulk wine is above the cost as established by the Chain Law, there is no problem. We also have stock problems in Spain, but that has no has nothing to do with wine purchases between countries of the European Union (EU),” Pérez stated.
The COAG organization has demanded “severe sanctions against France” in the face of the “intolerable and repeated” attacks on Spanish agricultural production, and has criticized that the “complicity of the French Government with the acts of vandalism threatens the free circulation of goods covered by the treaties.” of the EU”.
“In the background there is a purely commercial strategy. It seeks to separate Spanish producers from the community market when the real culprits are the large distribution chains, mainly French, which abuse their dominant position in the market to impose prices below costs in the field”, underlined the general secretary of COAG, Miguel Padilla.
The organization has called on the EU to guarantee “effectively and forcefully” the free circulation of Spanish fruits and vegetables in French territory, and has asked the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to transmit a formal complaint to the French Government for ” their apathy in the face of recurrent attacks”.
The deputy secretary general of UPA, Montse Cortiñas, has agreed in a video to reject “the intolerable attacks on the border against Spanish products in the face of the total passivity of the French security forces.”
“We ask the European Commission to take action on the matter; to the Spanish Government, to contact the French and that these actions do not occur again because this is not a protest, but an attack against Spanish products that we believe deserves a appropriate response,” Cortiñas added.
UPA has highlighted that this is an “unfair” attack on Spanish production by French farmers that deserves an “urgent condemnation by the Governments of Spain and France.”
Sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) have indicated that “the Government condemns these acts, which threaten the free circulation of goods within the European Union and which harm the interests of those affected.”
They have highlighted that they are in contact with the French authorities with the aim of restoring normality and not reproducing these incidents.