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France

French fireman dies at farmers’ blockade

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-21

A fireman was killed Thursday when his car collided with a lorry at a roadblock near Paris set up by farmers protesting high taxes. The government has demanded an immediate end to the go-slow protest.

The French government demanded that arable farmers end a go-slow protest around Paris Thursday after a fireman was killed and six others injured in two separate accidents near protesters’ roadblocks.

The French transport ministry said the fireman was "on his way to work” when his car collided with a lorry.

In a separate incident, six people were “slightly injured” when a police van hit a farmer’s truck, the ministry said without providing further details.

Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier demanded that all roadblocks be lifted immediately after the incidents.

But the farmers were resolutely pressing ahead with their “blockade on Paris” Thursday morning, paralysing traffic on major arterial roads around the French capital.

Two farmers unions said the high tax protest was intended to "make the voice of the agriculture sector heard.”

The FDSEA and JA unions said arable farmers were being "crippled" by tax rises.

Impact competitiveness

"We are here to show our government that we will no longer accept these policies which are decimating the arable farming sector," FDSEA representative Christophe Lerebour told Reuters TV.

Lerebour added that the tax increases would put French farmers at a disadvantage to their European competitors and that it would impact French exports.

The unions also complained of, "ever more demanding environmental laws, increasing checks and stronger regulatory mechanisms."

Many local cereal growers are also furious at the EU’s decision to focus aid on poorer livestock farmers and the French government’s support of this change.

This latest protest increases the pressure on President Francois Hollande's government which has already been forced into an embarrasing climbdown on a planned new environmental "ecotax" on commercial vehicles after violent protests in Brittany, a predominantly agricultural region in northern France.

Opponents of the tax, which critics say unfairly penalises remote areas dependent on deliveries by road freight, are demanding it be scrapped altogether.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the government would introduce reforms to fix inequalities in the tax system.

Date created : 2013-11-21

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