Farmers' protests have sprung up across Europe, even as some cease

Countries across Europe - the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Poland - all have one point in common. Their farmers are unhappy with their lot.

The movement, triggered by concerns over low wages, heavy regulation and cheap imports, has involved farmers from Spain, Italy, Germany, Romania and Greece calling for action.

Lines of tractors rolled menacingly across a residential street in Poland and across a German bridge, while farming protesters in Italy burned spectacular night-time fires by stone statues.

On the Dutch-Belgian border and on roads in Greece, farmers blocked roads. In Poland, plans were hatched to shut border crossings with Ukraine as European protests over costs and bureaucracy spread.

However French farmers were gradually lifting their roadblocks around Paris and elsewhere in the country on Friday, a day after the government offered them over 400 million euros in various measures meant to answer their grievances over low earnings, heavy regulation and unfair competition from abroad.

On major highways around Paris, protesters took down tents, cleaned up the road and set fire to straw bales that they were using as barricades. Convoys of tractors were leaving the sites in a peaceful and orderly manner amid a large police deployment meant to ensure the security of operations.

And Romania's coalition government also said on Friday it had reached an agreement with farmers and hauliers to end weeks of protests against high business costs. Hundreds of farmers and truck drivers began protesting three weeks ago, with convoys of tractors and trucks slowing or blocking traffic on national roads near large cities, including the capital, Bucharest.

Many of the farmers' concerns are country-specific: in Germany, plans to phase out tax breaks on agricultural diesel to balance the budget, or in the Netherlands, a requirement to reduce nitrogen emissions, in which farmers would be the hardest hit.

But while many of the farmers' concerns are country-specific - many are not.

Farmers say they face falling sale prices, rising costs, heavy regulation, powerful and domineering retailers, debt, climate change and cheap foreign imports.

Costs – notably for energy, fertiliser and transport – have risen in many EU countries, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Not to mention the disruption of usual trade flows.

The war in Ukraine has led to the EU waiving quotas and duties following Russia's invasion - which led to a flood of cheap agricultural produce from from Ukraine. Farmers say this has depressed their prices, and created unfair competition.