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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Bruxellois find their feet
Brussels streets
Some have taken advantage of the traffic-free streets
By James Rodgers in Brussels

Many, normally busy, streets in the centre of the Belgian capital are empty of traffic.

Truck drivers have simply parked their vehicles across main roads and at junctions, leaving room for only pedestrians and cyclists to pass.

Pedal power has come into its own
Office workers have taken the opportunity to stage impromptu games of tennis.

Protesters, many of whom have been spending the night in their cabs, have even complained that motorcyclists have disturbed their sleep.

Bikers have apparently been taking advantage of car-free streets to speed around in the middle of the night.

The disruption has not been confined to Brussels.

Traffic has also been blocked along main roads both to the north and south of the capital.

Talks continuing

Talks are continuing between union leaders and the government.

Empty road in Belgium
Usually busy roads are virtually empty
There are reports that some concessions have been offered, but not enough to end the blockades.

Ministers have so far refused to consider cutting the price of fuel - the strikers' central demand.

The European Commission has written to the Belgian authorities asking whether the protest is preventing the free movement of goods - something which each member of the European Union is bound by law to guarantee.

The situation could worsen further if German truckers and farmers make good their threat to join the protest later this week.

Their are also suggestions that hauliers in Spain and Ireland could mount similar actions in protests at fuel prices in their countries.

The Netherlands has also been among those countries affected - with truck and taxi drivers disrupting traffic in major cities and on motorways.

So far protesters all over Europe are determined that the blockades stay in place until taxes on fuel are reduced, as was done in France.

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