• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
French farmers told to end protest after death
Tractors blocks a road into Paris on Thursday morning as French farmers protested over tax hikes. A fireman was killed in a car accident at one of the road blocks. Photo: Screengrab TF1 TV

French farmers told to end protest after death

Dan MacGuill · 21 Nov 2013, 08:45

Published: 21 Nov 2013 08:45 GMT+01:00

LATEST

  • Farmers unions call off protest telling members to lift the road blocks that had been stationed on routes into Paris
  • One motorist killed and six others injured in two separate accidents amid farmers' blockade around Paris on Thursday
  • French transport minister Frédéric Cuvilier calls for "immediate lifting" of the blockade in response to the accidents
  • The man killed in the crash was a fireman on his way to work, who died after a collision with a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) which formed part of the farmers' road block

French transport minister  Frédéric Cuvilier has demanded an "immediate lifting" of the blockade around Paris on Thursday morning, after a motorist - reportedly a fireman on his way to work - was killed in an accident at a road block in the Val d'Oise department.

Six others were injured when a tractor and a CRS riot police vehicle collided at a road block.

Cuvilier confirmed earlier reports of a fatality on his Twitter account. "Two accidents at farmers' roadblocks in Ile de France, with one death. Danger! I am calling for the immediate lifting of the roadblocks. #Responsibility"

The protest, provoked by anger over rising taxes and costs, has caused disruption on certain roads in the Ile de France region around Paris on Thursday morning, consistent with the farmers' stated goal of bringing traffic around the capital to a standstill.

According to the latest pre-rush hour reports there were no major traffic jams, but certain roads were affected including the N10, N20 and A6, and traffic on the N14 near Vigny is also facing disruption. Farmers set up a filter on the N104 atthe "Green Cross roundabout" at 8.30am, which was expected to slow traffic.

At Epones it is impossible to get access to the A13 motorway and on the N12 near Creteil, the road has been blocked.

On Wednesday French police issued a warning to motorists that many roads will be affected by the protests and listed the A6, A10, A12, A13, A15 and the N12, N20, N118 as routes to avoid.

Led by the country’s leading agricultural union, the FNSEA, the farmers announced on Monday they would be setting up filters on all major routes in and out of the French capital to slow traffic, as anger in the face of rising taxes reaches boiling point.

“We’re absolutely sick of it – regulations, checks, taxes, the ecotax, the hike in VAT, it’s all piling up,” French farmer Pierre Bot told Europe 1 radio, referring to a hotly-contested would-be tax on road transport, and a planned increase of VAT from seven to 20 percent in some industries.

Frustrated by a perceived lack of response from the Socialist government of President François Hollande, farmers based in the Ile de France region around Paris have decided to take the drastic measure of crippling traffic in and out of France’s economic capital.

“This was the only solution we could find to make ourselves heard,” said Bot. “There will be farmers, tractors, horses, trucks, and agricultural suppliers,” he added.

Local FNSEA chief François Lecoq shared the young farmer’s determination.

“We’re going to blockade the country,” he told Europe 1 on Monday. “We’re going to blockade all the major routes around Paris, we’re ready for that,” he added.

“[We’re fed up of] this increase in VAT from seven to 20 percent on fertilizer, accommodation for horses, the ecotax on transport, which will make the burden even heavier,” said Lecoq.

SEE ALSO: France 'on the brink of social explosion'

The plan to engage in mass disruption and protests in Paris on Thursday morning comes after weeks of vigorous demonstrations with agrifood and road transport workers in the Brittany region of western France.

Dubbed the “Bonnets Rouges” after their emblematic red hats, a reference to a 17th-century tax revolt, the movement has itself blockaded major motorways in and around Brittany, and clashed with riot police.

Story continues below…

Some frustrated members of the movement have also destroyed dozens of speed radars and metal toll gates set to be used to enforce the ecotax.

The protests in Brittany forced French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to back down last month, and he suspended the ecotax, which would have been implemented from January 1st 2014, pending a “dialogue” with the movement.

The Bonnets Rouges blockades and protests, however, have continued, as the movement’s leaders demand the total abandonment of the ecotax, which they fear would cripple the agrifood sector, which is crucial in the region.

On Saturday, around 2,000 trucks caused significant disruption to traffic in and out of several French cities including Paris, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon and Lille.

Last week, around 2,000 protestors brought horses and ponies to protest in Dijon, eastern France, against the planned VAT hike on the equine sector.

Thursday’s planned blockade by farmers, then, will take place in an atmosphere of widespread anger in France and near-revolutionary levels of opposition to the policies of the Socialist-led government.

One French newspaper last week even went so far as to warn that the country was “on the brink of social explosion.”

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
View from the rue
What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?
Photo: AFP

With 64 percent of the French against burqinis at the beach, what do the Parisians think?

Almost half of France now on heatwave alert
Children cool off in Nice's fountains. Photo: AFP

Orange alerts - the second highest level - were issued to 43 départements as France's heatwave shows no signs of stopping.

France's top ten beaches to survive the heatwave
Photo: Gomezdegomera/Flickr

Temperatures are soaring... why not head to the beach?

Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
People taking part in activities in the Bassin de la Villette. Photo: AFP

If you fancy a rare chance to swim along the Paris canal system, here comes your chance.

French wine output drops 10 percent after stormy weather
A vineyard in Valfaunes partially destroyed after a violent hailstorm near the southern city of Montpellier. Photo: AFP

Bad weather has pushed wine production in France down ten percent this year.

Migrants armed with sticks hold up truck driver in Calais
Migrants standing near the Calais motorway. File photo: AFP

The driver involved says he deals with similar incidents "every night".

Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
The burqini ban in 30 French towns has provoked debate worldwide. Photo: AFP

Almost two thirds of French people said they're against the controversial swimwear.

Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Photo: Thomas Heylen/Flickr

A few things you need to know about interning in France.

Police arrest Lyon man who 'talked of attack plans'
French soldiers patrolling the Part-Dieu train station last year. Photo: AFP

The man had talked about plans to attack a busy district in central Lyon.

France's burqini ban goes before country's top court
A woman models the burqini swimsuit. Photo: AFP

France's highest administrative court will on Thursday examine a request to scrap a ban on the Islamic burqini swimsuit.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
'To boycott France is to surrender to terrorists'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
21 photos to make you want to come to France right now
Society
This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese
National
French MP's call for Facebook ID cards blasted 'as idiotic'
Travel
Summer checklist: Fourteen great travel ideas for France
Travel
Here's why France is still world's top tourist destination
'Wealthy American tourists' snub France over terror fears
National
Where to go swimming in France (and where to avoid)
2,741
jobs available