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Farmers protest outside EU HQ ahead of key summit

Farmers protest outside EU HQ ahead of key summit Farmers protests in Brussels (Getty Images)

Farmers' protests that started in France and Belgium recently culminated Thursday near the European Parliament where the leaders were gathering at the EU summit. Angry farmers threw eggs and stones at the building and started fires nearby, desperately trying to attract EU leaders' attention to the strugglings they face in the industry, Reuters and AP News report.

Protesters tried to remove the barriers in front of the building, a few blocks from where the summit was happening. However, the police pushed them back using water hoses and tear gas.

Farmers protest outside EU HQ ahead of key summitPolice pushed protesters back using water hoses (Getty Images)

The heart of Brussels, where European Union headquarters are located, was blocked by around 1,300 tractors, according to police. A statue near the square where farmers gathered with their tractors was damaged.

The protesters say they are not paid enough, burdened by taxes and green rules, and face unfair competition from other countries.

Farmers from various European countries want their voices heard, displaying banners such as "If you love the earth, support those who manage it" and "No farmers, no food."

"If you see how many people we are here today, and if you see it's all over Europe, so you must have hope. We must have hope that these people see that farming is necessary. It's the food, you know," said one of the protesters.

Even though the EU summit is mainly focused on helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, the farmers wanted to make sure their issues had some attention from the 27 leaders.

"To the farmers that are outside. We see you and we hear you," European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said

EU has already made some concessions, like limiting farm imports and relaxing environmental regulations.

Recent protests in Belgium and France

For several days, farmers in Belgium have been blocking roads to a major port in a protest against the increasing costs they face, as well as the environmental rules of the European Union (EU) and cheap food from other countries.

French farmers also threatened to block major roads leading to Paris as part of nationwide protests concerning the future of their industry. They argue that the farming sector in France is heavily subsidized but faces excessive regulations, bureaucratic hurdles, and competition from countries with lower costs.