Thousands of farmers protest in Warsaw against EU climate policies and Ukrainian imports

Thousands of Polish farmers have marched in Warsaw against EU climate policies and agricultural imports from Ukraine.

They were joined at today’s event – which is the largest demonstration so far during ongoing protests by farmers in Poland – by colleagues from other EU countries as well as by Polish miners and hunters.

Choć zgromadzenie #protestrolnikow zostało zgłoszone na 10 tysięcy osób, rolnicy w rozmowach w mediami mówią, że spodziewają się od 30 do nawet 50 tys. protestujących. @KKojzar 👉

— (@oko_press) February 27, 2024

Protesters waved red and white Polish flags and carried banners reading “Without us you will be hungry, naked and sober” and “I am a farmer, not a slave”.

Some banners were also directed against Ukraine, with one saying “Take care of your family’s health. Don’t eat crap from Ukraine”.

Another declared “Enough hospitality towards ungrateful sons of bitches” and showed a Ukrainian being kicked out of Poland.

Na marszu w Warszawie baner, który pojawiał się już na poprzednich protestach rolników.

— Marcin Terlik (@MarcinTerlik) February 27, 2024

The march, which has proceeded peacefully so far, began at 11 a.m. by Warsaw’s landmark Palace of Science and Culture. From there, the farmers headed towards parliament and then the prime minister’s chancellery.

They demanded that the authorities meet their demands, which include abandoning restrictions on agriculture planned under the EU’s “Green Deal” climate package and placing tougher restrictions on agricultural goods from Ukraine.

Before the protest, the organisers announced that 10,000 farmers would participate. Footage broadcast by media outlets showed large crowds in the centre of Warsaw. The city’s mayor, Rafał Trzaskowski, told Polsat News that there are indeed around 10,000 people at the demonstration.

Miło, że komuś chce się walczyć o naszą wolność.#protestrolników #zielonyład #fitfor55

— Jakub Mościcki (@Jakub_moscicki) February 27, 2024

“We are under pressure from Ukraine’s supply of agricultural products of all kinds. They have pushed down the prices of our crops so that we are making a loss,” one of the protesting farmers told broadcaster TVP.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is currently in Prague for a summit of the Visegrad Group, said that he had heard the farmers’ demands and vowed to take action to address, among other things, trade with Ukraine.

“We are realistic about the impact of the [EU’s] free trade decision with Ukraine, which negatively affects our markets,” said Tusk following a meeting with his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala earlier today.

He noted that no one could accuse Poland and the Czech Republic of not helping Ukraine. But he pointed out that liberalising trade with Ukraine negatively affects their economies and they will “work together for adjustments that will protect the common European market”.

Polish farmers have begun blocking the border with Slovakia, which they say is being used to bring Ukrainian produce to Poland, bypassing the blockade of the border with Ukraine.

On Friday they also plan to start a blockade of the border with Lithuania

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 26, 2024

Agriculture minister Czesław Siekierski, meanwhile, said that “the European Commission has imposed excessive, unreasonable, costly Green Deal requirements”, reported broadcaster TVN.

The commission has already announced the withdrawal of the compulsory fallowing of 4% of land for larger farms and a 50% reduction in pesticide use by 2030. However, this has not been enough to satisfy farmers in Poland and other EU countries, where regular protests have also taken place in recent weeks.

“We do not agree with merely suspending these regulations. This is unacceptable because, at any time, the European Commission can decide to unsuspend them. We demand that the changes be permanent,” one of the protest leaders, farmers’ trade union chief Sławomir Izdebski, told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Kyiv has called on Poland to find and punish those responsible for the sabotage of a train carrying Ukrainian grain, which resulted in 160 tonnes being dumped from the wagons.

It is the fourth such incident since the start of protests by Polish farmers

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 26, 2024

Polish farmers began their 30-day protest on 9 February and have since been blocking roads around Poland as well as border crossings with Ukraine. There have also been incidents of the dumping of Ukrainian grain transiting through Poland, acts that Kyiv has condemned.

Yesterday, farmers also started blocking a border crossing with Slovakia, which they say is being used as a route to bring produce from Ukraine into Poland, bypassing the blockade on the Ukrainian border.

On Friday, Ukraine called on Poland to resolve the blockades, threatening retaliatory action if the issue is not sorted out by 28 March, the date when the Polish and Ukrainian governments are due to meet for bilateral talks in Warsaw.

Ukraine may take „retaliatory measures” if Poland does not resolve border blockades by protesting farmers, Ukrainian PM @Denys_Shmyhal has declared after waiting at the border for a meeting with Polish leaders, who, as previously announced, did not show up

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 24, 2024

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Adam Stepien / Agencja

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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