German farmers arrive in Berlin for protest

World Monday 08/January/2024 07:25 AM
By: DW
German farmers arrive in Berlin for protest

Berlin: Dozens of farmers on Sunday arrived in Berlin ahead of demonstrations against government plans to reduce subsidies.

The convoy reached the iconic Brandenburg Gate at 5:30 pm local time (1530 UTC), according to the local Berliner Zeitung daily. A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 11 p.m.

Farmers are demonstrating against plans by Germany's government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the suspension of agricultural subsidies. The governing coalition is made up of Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP).

On Thursday, the government announced that it would walk back some of the planned cuts to subsidies, which the German Farmers' Association (DBV) considers to be an insufficient measure.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry warned that anti-state and far-right elements could attempt to instrumentalize the protests for their own interests.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the FDP urged farmers to "turn around," adding that agriculture was a "highly-subsidised sector," according to der Spiegel.

The conservative opposition coalition CDU/CSU, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the right-wing populist Free Voters have expressed their support for the farmers' protests.

The Strasse des 17. Juni, a major thoroughfare that connects central Berlin and the western suburbs, has been closed to traffic ahead of the protests.

Major transport disruptions are expected on Monday due to the demonstrations.

The eastern state of Brandenburg's Transport Ministry voiced fears that there could be disruptions in the delivery of goods, according to Berliner Zeitung. To reduce the probability of disruptions, the state exempted January 7 from a driving ban for trucks that applies on all Sundays and public holidays.

Authorities in the northern city-state of Hamburg warned of the possibility of traffic chaos, as farmers from the state of Schleswig-Holstein are to arrive for a rally in the city.