VALLETTA (Reuters) – Farmers in Malta staging a demonstration on Friday against EU agricultural policies as part of Europe-wide protests were surprised when Prime Minister Robert Abela turned up in person to hear their complaints.
The farmers drove tractors and trucks from a vegetable market in the centre of the tiny Mediterranean island to Floriana, a town near the capital Valletta, waving banners and placards that accused the EU of “killing its own farmers”.
“No farmers, no food, no future,” read one placard attached to a tractor. Another read “Our livelihood in peril… No food!”
Their association said they were protesting – like farmers in many other European Union states – over the lowering of trade barriers, rules restricting the use of pesticides, rules limiting state aid, and high costs.
Abela, wearing a casual polo shirt, turned up just before the farmers were due to hold a news conference and listened to their complaints, occasionally asking questions, though he made no public statement.
Farmers have also protested in several European capitals and blocked streets in Brussels on Thursday while EU leaders were holding a meeting there.
On Friday farmers blocked the Dutch-Belgian border and occupied roads in Greece, though French farmers started lifting their blockades after the government in Paris made concessions.
(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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