Belgian-French road blocked in protest against EU transport

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Traffic jams formed on a highway between France and Belgium yesterday during the first of a series of protests that unions plan in European Union countries against reforms affecting lorry and bus drivers.

Police said traffic backed up several kilometres for around 90 minutes yesterday morning because of a protest called by a Belgian transport union near Rekkem in Belgium’s west Flanders.

The union is part of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) which opposes proposed EU reforms that could reduce rest time for truck and bus drivers.

ETF officials said there could be more protests in countries like France and the Netherlands before the European Parliament debates the reforms on Thursday. They added unions in Italy are prepared to stage a national strike if the Parliament’s transport committee adopts many of the new rules.

“There was a blockage from the lorry drivers near Rekkem on the E17 toward France,” the Belgian Federal police’s press attaché told AFP.

Deputy Head of the Belgian Transport Union John Reynaert said the police caused the jam by rejecting the union’s proposal to route trucks through a parking area to distribute leaflets to drivers.