Farmers in Greece have been blockading roads throughout the country in the last weeks demanding state assistance to combat rising production costs.
Roadblocks have been set up on many roads and highways in Macedonia and Thessaly, while the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway has been blocked at Malgara.
Farmers have also continued their protests at the city centers of Larisa and Karditsa, symbolically placing hay bales and emptying milk on the streets while holding banners and flares and chanting slogans.
Farmers’ demands in Greece
The farmers’ demands include duty-free agricultural diesel, reduced electricity costs, subsidies on supplies and animal feed, renegotiation of the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), full compensation for lost income, and cessation of the labeling of non-Greek produce as Greek.
Many of their demands mirror similar protests that have been gripping Europe for weeks now. However, in Greece, farmers want also the government to deliver on promises made months ago: compensation for thousands of crops and livestock destroyed in deadly floods and rainstorms that battered the farming heartland in September.
Farmers say the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has not fully compensated them despite promises he will do everything possible to assist in the flood-stricken region of Thessaly. On Friday, protesting farmers and livestock breeders from fifty rural blockades set up nationwide, their 15-member delegation elected on Friday. This was ahead of a meeting with the Prime Minister in Athens on Tuesday.
In a rash of measures recently announced, Mitsotakis said the state would settle farmers’ overdue power and water bills and that a tax rebate of diesel fuel would be extended for another year.
“This is all the funding the federal budget can provide at this time,” said Pavlos Marinakis, a government spokesman. “If we could offer more we would. But we don’t want to make phony promises.”
The government has called on farmers to return to the negotiating table to seek a compromise solution with the Prime Minister himself.
Farmers’ protests all over Europe
In scenes now familiar from Poland to Portugal, angry farmers last week blocked roads, a port and a large wholesale market. They plan to continue through February. Italian farmers also took to their tractors last week, converging on the outskirts of Rome and staging a symbolic drive-past of the Colosseum on Friday.
In recent weeks, large conurbations including Paris and Lyon, have been blockaded. City centers in Brussels and Berlin have been choked to a standstill. Farmers have closed down motorways, dumped manure, hurled eggs, trashed supermarkets, set fire to hay bales and pallets, and clashed, sometimes violently, with police.
Many protests are partly country-specific. In Italy, demands included the reinstatement of an income tax exemption that had been in force since 2017 but was due to be scrapped in the 2024 budget.
In Germany, where protests have briefly paused after an estimated 30,000 farmers and 5,000 tractors paralyzed Berlin in mid-January, the most explosive issue is a government plan to phase out tax breaks on agricultural diesel to balance its budget.
But uniting them all are concerns shared across mainland Europe: falling product prices, rising costs, over-powerful retailers, cheap imports, and, in particular, EU environmental rules that many farmers see as unfair and economically unrealistic.