Polish Farmers Protest EU's Green Deal, Demand Referendum

Thousands of Polish farmers marched in Warsaw to protest the EU's environmental regulations, claiming they harm their economy. The protesters demanded a referendum on the EU's Green Deal, citing increased costs and restrictions on their work.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Polish Farmers Protest EU's Green Deal, Demand Referendum

Polish Farmers Protest EU's Green Deal, Demand Referendum

Thousands of Polish farmers, joined by representatives from other industries, marched through the streets of Warsaw on May 10, 2024, to protest the European Union's environmental regulations, which they claim are harming their economy. The demonstration, organized by the 'Solidarnosc' trade union, was held under the slogan "Down with the Green Deal."

Why this matters: The protests highlight the growing tensions between the EU's ambitious environmental goals and the economic concerns of its member states, which could have far-reaching implications for the bloc's climate policies. If the EU fails to address these concerns, it may struggle to achieve its goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

The protesters, many wearing yellow vests and waving Polish flags and union banners, demanded a referendum on the EU's Green Deal, which aims to make the bloc climate-neutral by 2050. They believe the deal's provisions are driving them out of business by imposing restrictions on their work and increasing costs. Retired farmer Wieslaw Czerwinski from Grojec, Poland, stated, "The only thing it's good for is throwing in the bin... It raises the costs of production, raises costs every day, costs of heating, costs of energy." article

The farmers also expressed concerns about cheap food imports from Ukraine, which they claim are reducing their revenues. Some protesters even voiced fears that the EU will advocate for eating insects and worms instead of meat from livestock, citing a banner that read, "Let Brussels eat worms, we prefer pork chops and potatoes."

The demonstrate, environmental was attended by lawmakers from the former nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) government, who accused the current pro-EU coalition government under Prime Minister Donald Tusk of ignoring the needs of ordinary Poles. The PiS politicians claimed that the Tusk administration is kowtowing to the EU while neglecting Polish interests.

Agriculture is a significant emitter of greenhouse gases and a destroyer of biodiversity, making it a key sector for environmental regulation. Farmers' protests across the EU have already led to the bloc backing down from or delaying several measures to protect the environment, including plans to cut pesticide use by half and obligate farmers to set aside more land for nature.

While the Polish government has offered concessions to farmers, including 2.1 billion zlotys (€485 million) in subsidies to compensate for low grain prices, the protesters argue that this is not enough. Thedemonstrationin Warsaw highlights the ongoing tensions between the EU's ambitious environmental goals and the economic concerns of its member states, as the bloc strives to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.