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Belgian Farmers To Block Zeebrugge Port As French Protests Spill Over: Reports

By Reuters
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Belgian Farmers To Block Zeebrugge Port As French Protests Spill Over: Reports

Belgian farmers outraged over rising costs, European Union environmental policies and cheap food imports plan to block access roads to the Zeebrugge container port in Belgium, financial daily De Tijd reported.

The protesters plan to bar access to the North Sea port of Zeebrugge, the country's second-largest, for at least 36 hours from 14:00 CET (1300 GMT), the paper reported, citing organisers and police, adding the roadblock could last until Wednesday evening.

The paper quoted a port authority spokesperson as saying that police had informed the port about the planned action and that the port authority said that it could not assess how severe the disruption may be.

Reuters could not immediately reach the port operator for comment.

Farmers also disrupted traffic close to the Dutch border on the E19 highway on Tuesday (30 January) morning, with a tractor convoy heading towards port city Antwerp, state broadcaster RTBF said.

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Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is set to meet with farmers' associations on Tuesday.

European Union Trade Policies

In recent weeks, farmers across Europe including Germany, Poland and Romania have demonstrated over what they call excessive red tape, high fuel costs and unfair competition resulting from liberal European Union trade policies.

The Belgian protest movement was boosted by similar outrage in France, where angry farmers have set up dozens of roadblocks and increasingly disrupt traffic around Paris, putting the government under pressure.

Looking for a way out of the crisis, French President Emmanuel Macron has told the European Commission that it was impossible to conclude trade deal negotiations with South America's Mercosur bloc.

On Monday, Belgian farmers blocked highways in southern Belgium and parked tractors near to the EU Parliament in Brussels.

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