Image default

Why Polish farmers are blocking the border

There is still nothing going on at the German-Polish border crossing near Frankfurt on the Oder. Polish farmers are protesting against EU environmental protection measures – and against grain imports from Ukraine.

By Sabina Matthey, ARD Studio Warsaw

There is currently no way through on the most important road connection from Poland to Germany. Polish farmers want to block Autobahn 2, the extension of the A12 on the Polish side, with tractors, harvesters and cars until at least Monday afternoon. The convoy is kilometers long, Polish flags fly on the vehicles, and banners criticize the EU's agricultural policy.

Szczepan Wojcik, an organizer of the demonstration, speaks of a warning strike: “We are protesting against the proposals of the European Union and the European Parliament on the Green Deal,” explains Wojcik. According to Polish farmers, the plans for the ecological transformation of agriculture are too drastic. However, Donald Tusk's government has not yet wanted to back out of this.

Duty-free imports from Ukraine

The farmers are also campaigning against the duty-free import of agricultural products from Ukraine. After the Russian invasion two years ago, the EU suspended all import tariffs and quotas for agricultural products from Ukraine in order to help the country economically. A Polish farmer who wishes to remain anonymous criticizes this: “At the moment it has completely destroyed prices and everything that has to do with grain. So if it continues like this, the farmers will definitely not rest.”

Ukrainian agricultural products are supposed to pass through Poland in transit. According to farmers, the products still come onto the Polish market and drive down prices.

Protests become more and more agitated

While the demonstrators on the border with Germany are peaceful, the protests on the Polish border with Ukraine are becoming increasingly agitated. Most recently, Ukrainian agricultural products from trucks and freight trains were destroyed. Prime Minister Tusk has now placed the border crossings on the list of critical infrastructure so that military and humanitarian deliveries to Ukraine in particular can continue unhindered.

However, Tusk did not accept Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's invitation to a meeting at the border to find a solution to the dispute. They will finally meet in Warsaw at the end of March for government consultations.

Difficult diplomacy

The Polish government wants to avoid a diplomatic escalation between Warsaw and Kiev, but also doesn't want to mess with its own farmers. “We know how the Polish people have helped Ukraine, and we want to continue to help,” said Poland's Agriculture Minister Siekierski. “But at the same time we don't want the help to come at the expense of one professional group.”

Siekierski now wants to address the concerns of Polish farmers at a meeting with his EU colleagues in Brussels. However, the farmers who are currently blocking the highway to Germany are demanding concrete measures, says demo organizer Wojcik: “This is initially a 24-hour protest, but if there are no results, it could last much longer.”

Sabine Tzitschke, RBB, tagesschau, February 26, 2024 8:39 a.m

Related posts

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.