Belgium’s farmers are heading for Brussels as the city prepares to welcome the 27 EU leaders for Thursday’s extraordinary summit, with some arriving on Wednesday for the ceremony in memory of Jacques Delors.
There are already a few tractors stopped on streets close to the European Parliament, but there are no traffic bans in place or sections cordoned off in the center of the Belgian capital.
The French are expected to push for the rural mobilizations to be included on the official agenda for the European Council meeting. Even if they are not, the leaders are still expected to discuss the issue.
A delegation of Belgian farmers put the same request—namely, that their demands be formally discussed at the Summit—in a meeting with the Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo.
The Belgians have highlighted both the EU’s strict environmental regulations and a possible agreement with a bloc of Latin American countries (MERCOSUR), as causes of concern.
Brussels continues to follow developments carefully, as the demonstrations expand and copy-cat protests multiply. On 26 February, Europe’s agriculture ministers are expected to meet to discuss the next moves that may need to be made.
At the same time, the European Commission is expected to present a proposal for continued support to Ukraine, with drafts suggesting a one-year extension of the measure allowing for duty-free imports of certain (Ukrainian) products.
As the Commission states in its draft proposal: “The temporary and extraordinary measures will contribute to the ongoing support for the existing trade flows between Ukraine and the Union”.
There has been a backlash, however, primarily from countries neighboring Ukraine, which have stressed that decisions of this sort harm their agricultural sectors. Both this issue and the farmers’ concerns about MERCOSUR will be raised by French President Emmanuel Macron.