Romanian farmers, truck drivers protest about subsidies and taxes

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romanian farmers and truck drivers continued sporadic protests across the country on Sunday as negotiations with the coalition government over high insurance rates and slow subsidy payments resumed.

Convoys of tractors and trucks began gathering five days ago on national roads, mainly near large Romanian cities, slowing or blocking traffic.

Farmers and hauliers also briefly blocked a border crossing with Ukraine in northeastern Romania on Saturday, and tried to prevent entrance to the Black Sea port of Constanta.

They are demanding the government address high insurance premia and excise levels on diesel fuel, loan moratoriums, the time taken to pay farm subsidies and drought damages as well as technical measures to reduce long waiting times at border crossings.

Truckers have also asked that lorries coming from the European Union have a separate line at border crossings and in Constanta port than trucks from outside the bloc, including Ukraine.

Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters and Constanta has become Kyiv’s largest alternative export route since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, with grains arriving at the port by road, rail and barge across the Danube.

The port shipped 36 million metric tons of grain last year, up 50% from the previous year. Ukrainian grain accounted for roughly 40% of the total, or 14 million tons.

After talks with transport and farm ministries on Saturday, protesters were set to meet the finance minister on Sunday.

Romania holds local, parliamentary, presidential and European elections this year.

German farmers also began a week of nationwide protests against subsidy cuts on Monday while Polish truck drivers and farmers have blocked several crossings with Ukraine since late 2023, demanding that the EU reinstate a system whereby Ukrainian companies obtain permits to operate in the bloc.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)