Traffic chaos hits German cities as farmers stage tractor protest

Protests by farmers are set to bring traffic to a standstill in some German cities.

Traffic chaos hits German cities as farmers stage tractor protest
Farmers protesting in Berlin in November. Photo: DPA

Thousands of farmers from all over Germany are expected in Berlin on Friday and Saturday. There are also a series of protests in other German cities on Friday, including Hanover, Bremen and Wesel (North Rhine-Westphalia) as well as Nuremberg where around 10,000 farmers and 5,000 tractors are expected.

The demos coincide with 'Green Week', held annually in Berlin for processors and marketers in agriculture, horticulture and various food industries.

There have also been farmer protests in other parts of Germany this week, including Thuringia, as the video below shows.

Traffic disruption expected

In Berlin the protests are being held by two separate groups.

On Friday, the alliance “Land schafft Verbindung” (Countryside Creates Connection) will demonstrate from 11am and 7pm.

The group, which is protesting against planned government regulations aimed at protecting the environment which it says are damaging to farmers, are set to ride in from the surrounding state of Brandenburg to the Victory Column, bringing traffic to a standstill. 

Police said about 500 tractors are expected for the rally. There's likely to be extensive traffic problems in roads in Brandenburg and Berlin as early as 8am, which will likely cause misery for commuters.

On Saturday, the alliance “Wir haben es satt” (We've had enough) is holding a demo alongside climate and animal welfare activists to call for a more environmentally friendly agricultural policy.

The alliance, which brings together around 100 organizations including farmers, is calling for a new distribution of EU agricultural subsidies.

Instead of investing €60 billion from the EU in agriculture which uses pesticides on fields or encourages mass livestock farming possible, the money should be spent to support environmental, nature conservation and climate measures as well as promoting animal welfare.

Up to 15,000 people are expected at this protest. 

The Straße des 17. Juni in Berlin will be closed in both directions between Ernst-Reuter-Platz and Großer Stern (Victory Column).

Police have recommended that drivers leave their cars at home during the protests and switch to public transport, in particular the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn.

In Nuremberg the motto of the protest is “”Wir ackern für Bayern” (we are working for Bavaria) and will cause huge disruption, police warned.

The tractor convoys will drive into the city towards the assembly point at the Nuremberg public festival square on six different routes.

Police have urged drivers to avoid the area.

Massive protests

It comes after a mass protest by the Land schafft Verbindung in November, which saw 10,000 people and about 5,000 tractors converge from all over Germany in Berlin. 

Farmers from this movement are angry about new planned regulations which Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, of the CDU, and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, of the SPD, presented at the beginning of September last year.

Among other things, the government package stipulates that the weedkiller glyphosate will be banned in Germany by the end of 2023 after a phasing-out period.


The government is also proposing to reduce the nitrate content in ground water by cutting the use of certain fertilizers and liquid manure.

But many German farmers say they are still coping with large amounts of excess nitrate from the past.

There are fears that the agricultural package will endanger family-run farms, according to the Land schafft Verbindung.

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France vows to block EU-South America trade deal in current form

France has vowed to prevent a trade deal between the European Union and the South American Mercosur bloc from being signed with its current terms, as the country is rocked by farmer protests.

France vows to block EU-South America trade deal in current form

The trade deal, which would include agricultural powers Argentina and Brazil, is among a litany of complaints by farmers in France and elsewhere in Europe who have been blocking roads to demand better conditions for their sector.

They fear it would further depress their produce prices amid increased competition from exporting nations that are not bound by strict and costly EU environmental laws.

READ ALSO Should I cancel my trip to France because of farmers’ protests?

“This Mercosur deal, as it stands, is not good for our farmers. It cannot be signed as is, it won’t be signed as is,” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told broadcasters CNews and Europe 1.

The European Commission acknowledged on Tuesday that the conditions to conclude the deal with Mercosur, which also includes Paraguay and Uruguay, “are not quite there yet”.

The talks, however, are continuing, the commission said.

READ ALSO 5 minutes to understand French farmer protests

President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that France opposes the deal because it “doesn’t make Mercosur farmers and companies abide by the same rules as ours”.

The EU and the South American nations have been negotiating since 2000.

The contours of a deal were agreed in 2019, but a final version still needs to be ratified.

The accord aims to cut import tariffs on – mostly European – industrial and pharmaceutical goods, and on agricultural products.