BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Justin Webb in Brussels
"Around Europe there is talk of more protests to come"
 real 56k

Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
European paralysis set to spread
Trucker photographs lorries
Several major routes are blocked in the Netherlands
Large-scale protests against high fuel prices are set to continue across Europe, as some UK blockades are being called off.

Hasty tax policies can do nothing to change things

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
With European leaders holding firm against the protesters' demands, motorways and city streets remain paralysed in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

More protests are expected in Germany, where Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said instant tax concessions are the wrong answer to high world oil prices.

Man fills up car
Fuel is beginning to flow once more in UK pumps
And there are signs that the unrest is also about to spread to Spain and Poland. In Ireland, drivers said they would stage a one-day strike on Friday.

But in Britain, more fuel tankers are now on the move following the decision by several protest leaders to call off their blockades.

Tax concessions

All the protesters have the same aim - to force concessions on fuel taxes similar to those achieved by French campaigners a week ago.

Europeans - Britons especially - pay some of the highest petrol prices in the world.

Belgian truckers tightened their blockades on Thursday as petrol stations ran dry and school buses were cancelled.

Talks between truckers' representatives and the government were halted in the early hours to allow unions time to examine compensation offers, including cuts in social security payments.

Brussels road
Many Brussels roads have been left to pedestrians
In Brussels, taxi drivers on Wednesday night blocked traffic to the country's main airport.

And Belgium's dairy industry warned that milk collection could stop soon.

Belgium's employers' federation said the protests were costing the country's economy BFr10bn ($215m) a day.

TotalFinaElf, Belgium's main petrol supplier, said that only 20% of normal deliveries were getting through the blockades.

Lorry drivers also blockaded the ports of Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge.

With diesel prices going up again on Thursday to BFr37.70 ($ 0.80) a litre, lorry drivers are demanding government action to cut taxes by BFR1.87 ($0.04) on every litre.

The move is opposed by the ruling coalition, which is partly made up of ecological parties.


Much of the worst congestion in Germany was caused by Belgian lorry drivers who brought traffic to a halt on the border.

In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder defended fuel taxes as vital to his government's policy of cutting unemployment.

"Hasty tax policies can do nothing to change things," he told parliament.

A crowd including about 500 truckers booed and whistled Mr Schroeder in the town of Schwerin on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Europe

  • Lorry drivers in the Netherlands blocked several major routes following the rejection of fuel price cuts by the Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm.

  • In Oslo, Norway's road transport union said it would call its members to strike if diesel fuel taxes were not cut.

  • In Warsaw, Polish truckers warned of a nationwide slowdown from Friday, with backing from farmers and taxi drivers.

  • In Ireland, lorry drivers are planning a day of strikes and protests for Friday, after the government rejected a demand to cut diesel tax by a third.

  • In Spain, farmers are talking to government representatives, with demonstrations planned for next week.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

14 Sep 00 | UK
UK fuel blockades tumble
13 Sep 00 | Europe
Bruxellois find their feet
13 Sep 00 | Europe
German fuel row turns political
12 Sep 00 | Europe
In pictures: Going nowhere fast
13 Sep 00 | Europe
European press review
11 Sep 00 | Europe
France looks for energy savings
05 Sep 00 | Europe
Europe faces fuel dilemma
11 Sep 00 | Business
Oil price bounces back
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories