Farmers have descended on Brussels to press European Union leaders to do more to help them with taxes, rising costs and cheap imports, throwing eggs at the European Parliament, starting fires near the building and setting off fireworks.


Security personnel in riot gear stood guard behind barriers where the leaders are due to meet, a few blocks away from the European Parliament building where tractors were parked in a central square.


According to a police estimate, major thoroughfares in Brussels, the heart of the European Union, were blocked by around 1,000 tractors, as farmers from Belgium and other European countries try to make themselves heard by EU leaders meeting later.


Farmers say they are not being paid enough, are choked by taxes and green rules and face unfair competition from abroad.


They have already secured several measures, including the bloc’s executive Commission proposals to limit farm imports from Ukraine and loosen some environmental regulations on fallow lands.


In France, where farmers have been protesting for weeks, the government has dropped plans to gradually reduce subsidies on agricultural diesel and promised more aid.


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