German truckers and farmers blocked roads in the city of Schwerin today just hours before Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was due to give a speech to a business group, according to Associated Press reports.
Protest leaders planned to hand Schroeder a note urging him to take action against high fuel prices. He rejected an earlier request to repeal fuel taxes imposed by the government to help fund the nation's social security system. In a speech to parliament in Berlin, Schroeder insisted he would not give in to "coercion" from the streets.
In Munich, protesters drove about two dozen tractors, buses and trucks to the local headquarters of Germany's governing parties, the Social Democrats and Greens, to demand lower fuel taxes. Demonstrators carried banners reading "Stop the ripoff" and "Down with the oil tax."
Yesterday in Ireland, truckers nationwide threatened go-slow convoy protests on main roads if the government did not agree to cut fuel excise charges.
According to the Agence France Press, the Irish Road Haulage Association said the protests would be staged Friday if it was not satisfied with the results of a meeting scheduled for later today with Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and his finance minister.
IRHA president Gerry McMahon warned that there would be a total work stoppage on Friday if the government turned down an immediate reduction on excise duties, reported the AFP.
The association is scheduled to meet again on Saturday to decide on possible further action, he added, but denied the protest was opportunistic.
Norway's truckers association has threatened it will stage protests unless it receives positive news about fuel tax relief measures, according to the Associated Press. The association is set to meet with Norway's finance minister Karl Eirik Schjoett-Pedersen on Friday.
"Without concrete signals from Schjoett-Pedersen, we will get a situation in Norway that looks like the uproar conditions in Europe," said Gunnar Apeland, NLF director.
French truckers blockaded fuel depots and refineries for almost a week before reaching an agreement with the government over the weekend for a rebate on fuel taxes. In England, the government has had to resort to police escorts of fuel tankers to get past truck blockades that have left gas stations high and dry.