02 February 2024, by Emily Proctor

Dutch drivers have been warned by the Rijkswaterstaat to avoid travelling to Belgium via road if possible, due to protests by Belgian farmers that have blocked many of the roads near the border. The Belgian farmers have been joined by many Dutch farmers who are staging protests of their own across the country on Friday, in opposition to the government’s farming policy. 

Farmers across Europe are protesting against farming policy

In recent weeks, there has been a spate of demonstrations across Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and beyond. Farmers are protesting against European farming policies, particularly in the home of many EU institutions – Belgium. 

The protesters are demanding an end to bureaucratic procedures, farming regulations related to climate change policy and the spiralling costs of being a farmer. For many years, farmers in the Netherlands have also been taking part in the demonstrations, calling for the Dutch government to assist farmers with the high costs of fertiliser such as nitrogen, rather than introducing restrictions on the chemical’s use. 

Border crossings to Belgium impacted by demonstrations

The Belgian protests taking place over the past few days have spread from the capital, Brussels, right out to the country’s border with the Netherlands. This provoked the Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands to issue an advisory to Dutch drivers early on Friday morning: postpone your drive to Belgium if you can. 

As of Friday afternoon, several key border roads from the Netherlands to Belgium are still blocked by demonstrators. Belgian public figures have called on their government to dispatch the army to break up the protesters and clear the roads, but politicians say they are not (yet) willing to take such measures. Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden told De Telegraaf that such a decision is “not up to me”. 

Thumb image credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com

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