Tobacco farmers protest in Brussels
17 November 2003, BRUSSELS – Some five thousand European tobacco producers demonstrated Monday in Brussels against European Union moves to cut subsidies paid to them as part of a plan aimed at eventually phasing out tobacco production on the continent.
17 November 2003
BRUSSELS – Some five thousand European tobacco producers demonstrated Monday in Brussels against European Union moves to cut subsidies paid to them as part of a plan aimed at eventually phasing out tobacco production on the continent.
The EU Commission is targeting tobacco production in particular as it considers a reorganisation of subsidy payments to several farming sectors, also including sugar, olive oil and cotton producers.
Under the plan tobacco farmers will receive fixed payments aimed at encouraging them to abandon production of the tobacco plant, grown notably in France, Italy, Greece and Spain.
Currently, the EU subsidises European tobacco leaf sales to the tune of two thirds of the price paid to farmers.
The EU is keen to end the subsidies which it sees as an anomaly against its wider campaign against tobacco consumption in member states.
The protestors, who included tobacco plant farmers from across Europe, blocked roads surrounding EU headquarters in the Belgian capital just as Commission officials met to debate the proposed changes.
On Sunday some 200 French tobacconists demonstrated in Rekkem, a Flemish town on the Franco-Belgian border, in a separate protest against recent tax hikes on cigarette sales in France, which they claim has sent clients to Belgium in search of cheaper prices.
The French demonstrators, whose businesses are based near the border with Belgium, claim their livliehoods are threatened by the tax increases, and have called for a Europe-wide standardisation of tobacco tax.
Subject: Belgian news