Farmers across France are protesting against the free trade agreement with a show of collective anger in front of government offices, Reuters reported. Enraged by the EU trade deal with Canada the protestors damaged offices belonging to lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s party.
Farmers targeted politicians' offices overnight in Poitiers, Loudun and Chatellerault in western France, a regional branch of Macron's La République En Marche!
(LREM) party said on Twitter on Thursday.
A local farmers' association said it carried out the protest, which entailed blocking access to the offices with impromptu brick walls on which they sprayed slogans against the treaty between the EU and Canada, known as CETA.
"I am appalled by the wall and the graffiti that was put up last night in front of my office by the farmers," tweeted Sacha Houlie, who represents the LREM party in Poitiers.
As the CETA agreement comes under scrutiny, there is also anger among French farmers over the provisional trade deal struck in June by the EU and the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, which includes major agricultural exporters Brazil and Argentina. Under these deals, Europe aims to cut or reduce tariffs making imports cheaper for consumers while boosting exports for companies on both sides.
French farmers worry that this arrangement will threaten their livelihoods. Speaking to France 24, the President of the Young Farmers of Saone-et-Loire Joffrey Beaudot said, “The cost of production for French farmers is higher than that of South American countries, we can’t compete, so we will disappear”.
Anti-government protests picked up after the French parliament approved the EU-Canada trade deal last month. Opponents say it will undermine the EU's social and environmental regulations by allowing imports of products made under conditions that would not be allowed in Europe.
French farmers have a long tradition of staging disruptive protests. The current unrest comes on top of the ongoing "Yellow Vests" anti-government demonstrations, and there were also violent clashes in Nantes last weekend at an anti-police demonstration.