Police clash with farmers in Spain on fifth day of protests
Plataforma Nacional and Plataforma 6-F join forces and demand action from Spanish and European leaders.
The streets of Madrid witnessed clashes between police and a group of farmers and truck drivers, as part of one of the countless protests across the European Union to call out the bloc's environmental rules and what they see as excessive taxes.
Plataforma Nacional, a group representing drivers, and a newly created farmers' group, Plataforma 6-F, joined forces and demanded action from Spanish and European leaders, expressing that rules to protect the environment make them less competitive as opposed to other nations or regions.
Protesters waved Spanish flags, wore yellow vests, and shouted "Viva Espana" near the Atletico de Madrid stadium.
Manuel Hernandez, head of the Plataforma Nacional, voiced, "The government is forcing us to take measures that mean products will unfortunately not get to consumers in time. That is why we are calling on politicians to take responsibility and do something."
Not-so-green 'Green Deal'
As the continent's leading exporter of fruit and vegetables, Spain is often described as the "vegetable garden of Europe." However, its agricultural sector is facing difficulties, largely due to the lack of rainfall that has plagued the Iberian peninsula for the last three years.
Angry farmers have been protesting across Europe over the struggles faced by the sector due to rising costs, high fuel prices, soaring inflation, bureaucracy, and the environmental requirements in the EU's updated Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its forthcoming "Green Deal".
The movement began in France last month and has since extended to Germany, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Greece, and the Netherlands, resulting in road closures and cities overrun by tractor convoys.
In Italy, lower fuel taxes, improved prices for their products, and ratification of EU environmental regulations restricting foreign produce and organization competition have been some of the demands.
Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, blamed the farmers' outrage on the "environmental transition" that she believes hits farmers' lives. The far-right leader is a known critic of the EU regulation, calling it as an attack on Italy's agricultural interests.
In France, the French National Federation of Agricultural Unions (FNSEA) reported last month that more than 72,000 farmers mobilized in mass protests, expressing dissatisfaction with the government's agricultural policies.
The farmers are opposing the government's agricultural policies, citing concerns that these measures render their products economically uncompetitive.