Germany farmers blockade Vice Chancellor’s ferry to protest end of subsidies News
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Germany farmers blockade Vice Chancellor’s ferry to protest end of subsidies

German farmers blockaded and attempted to storm a ferry to prevent Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck from returning to Germany on Thursday, in protest of plans to remove agricultural subsidies. The protesters who attempted to storm the ferry were eventually stopped by police intervention as the ferry fled. The police reported that criminal charges were filed for breach of the peace and coercion. The incident, video of which circulated on social media, has garnered criticism from German government officials.

The plans to remove agricultural subsidies follow a November 2023 ruling from the Constitutional Court, which forced the government to reallocate its budgetary spending. The fallout is being called a financial crisis. The court ruled that the Second Supplementary Budget Act 2021 is incompatible with Article 109(3), 110(2), 115(2) of the country’s Basic Law, and consequentially did “not satisfy the the constitutional requirements for emergency borrowing.”

The Second Supplementary Budget Act 2021 amended the 2021 federal budget and allowed the borrowing of 60 billion Euros. The money was originally granted for the Covid-19 pandemic. The fund was renamed the Climate and Transformation Fund in 2022, and the court’s ruling removed the 60 billion Euros.

In order to fill this gap in the budget, the government said it would cut subsidies that impact agriculture. Habeck, of the Green Party Coalition, plays a vital role in these decisions.

Federal Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, criticized the protest, stating that the incident “no longer has anything to do with legitimate democratic protest and tough political debate.” Secretary of State and government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said on X (formerly Twitter) that the blockade “is shameful and violates the rules of democratic coexistence.” However, critics of the current government party defended the incident. Alice Weidel, leader of the right-wing Alternativ für Deutschland in the country’s parliament, said that “instead of seeking dialogue,” Habeck “prefers to escape” after a “crude track record of energy transition.”

The German Farmer’s Association distanced itself from the incident, but stood firm on its position against the removal of subsidies and reiterated that it will be formally protesting on January 8, 2024.