Under pressure from an announced cutoff on farmers’ access to Paris, the French government of pro-European Emmanuel Macron is now pointing the finger at “unfair competition” from EU partners such as Spain and Italy.
24 hours before the possible blockade of the capital, the prime minister recently appointed by Macron, Gabriel Attal, gave this Sunday a speech dominated by words like “independence” and “sovereignty” in which he also questions the functioning of the European Union (EU). ).
“We are going to continue advancing to fight against unfair competition. Our farmers are imposed (phytosanitary) rules that others (countries) are not,” criticized Attal, in a speech given shortly after visiting an agricultural farm in Indre-Loire.
The head of Government mentioned that at least 40% of fruits and vegetables are imported (especially from Spain and Italy) due to the productive brake that certain environmental rules adopted in its legislation represent for France and asserted that he will propose to his community partners “more measures” to protect French food sovereignty.
The statements of Attal, who is part of a government considered pro-EU, draw attention, since – in the absence of these new measures being outlined – they could call into question the very functioning of the single market of the community bloc.
However, in an interview with the BFMTV channel, the French Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, ruled out “a closure of borders” for Spanish or Italian products as the far-right has demanded, because it would be counterproductive for the French agricultural industry itself if the countries Neighbors do the same.
During the more than 10 days that this revolt has continued, many of the protesters have complained about the entry of agricultural products arriving especially from Spain, as they consider that they represent unfair competition due to their low price and that their environmental standards are worse than French.
Blockade of the capital
Shortly before his speech, Attal again went to a farm hoping to defuse a protest that had shown the first signs of deflating on Saturday. But neither the National Federation of Agricultural Operators’ Unions (FNSEA) nor that of Young Farmers (JJAA) of the Paris region have given their arm and announced that they are going to block access to the capital “in an indefinite manner” from this Monday the 29th at 1:00 p.m. GMT.
Another organization, Rural Coordination, assured that they will travel to Paris with the goal of blocking the international market of Rungis (outskirts), considered the largest for fresh products in the world. The Executive has assured that it has no intention of sending police officers to dissipate the protests, which it judges to be peaceful even if public infrastructure is blocked.
At the moment, there have been sporadic episodes of violence, such as the burning of the façade of the Government delegation in the city of Agen (southern France) last Wednesday. On Friday, two other public buildings were burned by protesters: that of the Agricultural Social Mutuality in Narbonne (south) and that of the Customs House in Nîmes.
Free trade agreements between the EU and other regions of the world are under the spotlight of French farmers and ranchers. The sector claims that these pacts are negative for their interests, since they allow products to enter France at a much lower price, as they say happens with those from Brazil or Ukraine (two agricultural powers in the export of cereals and meats such as chicken). .
One of the most criticized agreements has been that of the EU-Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), which must be ratified by the 27 EU member states after the 2019 political pact, which took more than 20 years to reach. .