Farmer protests: governments must compensate damages

Farmer protests: governments must compensate damages

Many farmer protests across Europe have seriously disrupted logistics chains, blocking key routes, attacking trucks and destroying cargo, often with the police as a passive witness. The cost for drivers and transport firms is huge and growing. They need compensation.

The spate of protests by farming groups over the past months use similar tactics: block key trade routes, including motorway links, borders, distribution centres and ports, to disrupt transport. 

Drivers become trapped on the road, effectively held hostage for lengthy periods without access to food, water and sanitation facilities, while goods are delivered with massive delays. IRU has already called on EU and national authorities to do more to keep vital trade and mobility routes open. 

The average cost to the driver or operator of a blocked truck is approximately EUR 100 per hour. Costs can quickly spiral, impacting especially owner-drivers and small and medium transport firms. The wider economic costs have already run into many millions of euros.

Freedom of speech does not equal freedom of destruction 

Protests have increasingly turned violent, particularly in France, with trucks and drivers being attacked by masked gangs of protesters who damage vehicles and destroy cargo, especially food. This is criminal damage against a truck and its innocent driver, against the transport sector as a whole, and against the people that the food is destined for.

Sadly, protesters primarily attack foreign-registered trucks, often from neighbouring countries. Cargo values vary greatly, but one truck might carry food valued at EUR 100,000 or more. Damaged cargo costs drivers and operators. Insurance does not cover damages because riots are excluded by most policies. Neither do customers.  

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “Enough is enough. Innocent drivers and transport operators are just trying to do their job, bringing food and other essentials to markets across Europe.» 

“Everyone has the right to protest but not the right to threaten drivers, attack trucks and destroy property. And if costly delays, attacks and destruction do happen, someone must pay for it,” she added. 

Compensate the victims

Governments across Europe have often failed to ensure continuity of logistics chains and to protect drivers who are simply trying to do their job. Government failure to act and protect the rule of law is often demonstrated by images of police who are present at the scene but do not attempt to stop criminal damage. 

Raluca Marian concluded, “Governments have a duty to ensure the free movement of goods and to guarantee the security of drivers and their cargo. The systemic breakdown in authority and order seen with these protests raise the legitimate claim of victims – transport operators – to compensation from governments for their losses. 

“If governments do not fulfil their protective role, they need to pay for damages. Nobody else will. Transport operators now need simple and transparent processes to claim compensation.»

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