Thousands Of Tractors Blocks Berlin Traffic Over Plan To End Diesel Subsidy

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jan 16, 2024 - 07:45 AM

Thousands of German truck drivers, farmers, and agricultural workers have parked in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in protest over the government's 'green' plan to end tax breaks on diesel fuel.

(Liesa Johannssen/Reuters)

Approximately 3,000 tractors had arrived for the protest on Monday according to police, who said that another estimated 2,000 were on their way in what may be the climax of weeklong protests. Berlin Police Chief Barbara Slowik told city leaders that a total of 1,300 officers had been deployed.

Major service delays were reported by Berlin's public transit agency, after around 10,000 people registered for demonstrations against the plan by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to cut subsidies.

Not making things better, Finance Minister Christian Lindner told thousands of protesting farmers that the country has run out of money for further subsidies. The government announcement is part of a plan to try and fix a 17-billion-euro (US$18.6 billion) hole in Germany's 2024 budget, AP reported last week.

"I can’t promise you more state aid from the federal budget," he said, adding "But we can fight together for you to enjoy more freedom and respect for your work."

The head of the farmers union, Joachim Rukwied, snatched the microphone from Lindner to ask the crowd to stop booing, telling them: "I have respect for every politician who is prepared to come to us ... The finance minister is here, it makes no sense to boo him."

Of course, the government also justified the cuts as 'required' after the country's highest court annulled an earlier decision to redirect nearly US$66 billion originally meant to mitigate fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic in order to combat climate change and modernize the country.

According to a Saturday message from Scholz, "we took the farmers’ arguments to heart," adding that he thinks the government has arrived at "a good compromise."

No according to the farmers.