Farmers’ Revolt Over Radical Green Agenda Could Reshape Europe Ahead Of EU Elections

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European farmers are reshaping the political landscape across the Atlantic just months before the EU’s parliamentary elections.

European farmers are reshaping the political landscape across the Atlantic about two months before 27 member states of the European Union (EU) vote on new leadership in their parliamentary elections.

Between June 6 and June 9, residents in the more than two dozen EU countries will elect 720 politicians to represent them as the continent confronts floundering economies and a potential war with Russia. Major demonstrations from agricultural workers, who are disillusioned by cheap imports and overregulation in the name of environmentalism, have rocked the region for years. The discontent has escalated in recent months, leading to last-minute concessions from EU elites desperate to maintain political capital ahead of the June elections.

In 2023, Dutch farmer protests generated global headlines as more than 10,000 people fought aggressive emissions regulations. The new rules threatened to shut down up to 3,000 farms. The Dutch demonstrations have been followed by similar uprisings in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and others over burdensome regulations and Ukrainian grain imports undermining local produce.

In February, the European Commission tried to do some damage control, scrapping a bill aimed at halving pesticide use and reigning in agricultural emissions as leaders brace for political blowback at the polls. But the specific limits on pesticides appear to be a minor point among farmers, who are tired of the overwhelming rules and regulations.

“We’re tired of working and getting underpaid,” explained one farm protester in a BBC interview. “We are fed up that they won’t let us do what we want to do in the fields. They force us to plant what they want us to plant. They force us to use the herbicide that they want, and apart from that, we are being underpaid.”

Protests have persisted in recent weeks, with demonstrators dumping manure in the streets and spraying it at police. Arnaud Rousseau, who runs the largest farmers union in France, told The New York Times in a recent interview, “It’s the end of the world versus the end of the month.”

“There’s no point talking about farm practices that help save the environment, if farmers cannot make a living,” Rousseau said. “Ecology without an economy makes no sense.”

“The discontent threatens to do more than change how Europe produces its food,” The New York Times reported Sunday. Right-of-center political parties see the populist anger as an “illustration of the confrontation between arrogant elites and the people, urban globalists and rooted farmers.” The electoral success of these parties would likely change the political dynamics in the EU, not just in the form of easing off agricultural regulations but also in seeking to curb migration and scrutinizing spending on Ukraine.

The farmers are just the most vocal opponents of the bureaucratic leviathan suffocating the entire EU under a mountain of rules and regulations. Federalist Senior Editor David Harsanyi goes through the numbers in his latest book, Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent.

The European Union, Harsanyi writes, “is no longer ‘federalist’ by any conception, but rather an institution that demands economic and regulatory conformity.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Harsanyi adds, exploited the EU pandemic recovery program in 2020 “to push forward the European Green Deal and exert greater control over member states.”

This was tradition. In the early 1980s, the number of EU laws reached 14,000. The EU passed 25 directives and 600 regulations per annum in the 1970s, but those numbers rose to 80 directives and 1,500 regulations by the early 1990s. By 2005 the EU had passed 170,000 pages of active legislation and 666,879 since its inception in 1957. As of June 2019, 80 percent of the United Kingdom’s environmental laws had been tethered to EU policy.

In other words, farmers might be generating headlines for mass demonstrations against overregulation from the administrative state, but the problem stretches across the European economy. The ensuing political backlash may change Europe’s direction on issues well beyond agricultural policy if the farmers’ revolt successfully sweeps in new leadership to the EU parliament.


This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.


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