Polish farmers protest in Warsaw opposing EU climate policies

May 10, 2024 by No Comments

Tens of thousands of disgruntled Polish farmers marched through downtown Warsaw on Friday to protest the EU’s climate policies and oppose the pro-EU government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The march under the slogan “Down with the Green Deal” was organized by Solidarity, a farmers’ trade union that strongly opposes the EU’s farming policies, particularly a policy known as the Green Deal which aims to make agriculture more climate friendly. The farmers say it interferes with their work and imposes high costs on them. “We are protesting because we don’t want to become slaves on our own land,” said dairy farmer Grazyna Gasowska from. “According to the Green Deal we are supposed to grow what they tell us to, when they tell us to,” Gasowska said as she held a national white-and-red flag. “All those diversification requirements are very difficult for the farmers.” The noisy march stopped at the EU Warsaw office and then at parliament. “Let Brussels eat worms, we prefer pork chops and potatoes,” said one banner, referring to a general belief that the EU will advise eating insects and worms rather than cattle meat.

The demonstration came as Poland’s political parties campaign ahead of elections next month for the European Parliament. The protest was supported by Polish right-wing opposition party Law and Justice, which held power from 2015 until late last year and is looking to regain political momentum. With an eye to the election, Tusk on Friday announced a reshuffle of his Cabinet to replace four ministers running for the European Parliament next month. The changes are also seen as a chance to bring new energy into Tusk’s government, which took office in December and embarked on deep reforms in many areas, including justice, foreign policy and the media. “Today comes the time of bringing order and this is one of the reasons for which we jointly decided to have these changes,” Tusk said. He said there will be more changes in the future that would be dictated by the “interest of the state.”

Tusk’s government has embarked on a wide reversal of the policies of the Law and Justice party, which put Poland on a collision course with the 27-member EU during its administration. Tusk’s team is taking steps to free the judiciary and the state media from the political control that Law and Justice tried to impose, and bring to account those responsible for mismanagement and loss of funds by state-owned companies. Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, who spearheaded a change in management at the state TV, radio and news agency, and the minister of the interior and administration, Marcin Kierwinski, were replaced. The ministers for state assets, Borys Budka, and for development and technology, Krzysztof Hetman, were also leaving.

The new interior minister is Tomasz Siemoniak, who served as the defense minister in Tusk’s previous government in 2011 to 2015. He retains his job as coordinator of special services at a time of Russia’s war on Poland’s neighbor, Ukraine. The culture minister is now Hanna Wroblewska, an art historian. Jakub Jaworowski, an economist and financier, was put in charge of state assets, where auditing is currently taking place and uncovering glaring cases of mismanagement under the previous government. Krzysztof Paszyk, an experienced politician and lawmaker, is the new minister of development and technology. They will take office after formal appointment by President Andrzej Duda on Monday.