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Spain lodges EC complaint after farmers force 30,000 litres of wine down drain 

PAGE 18 SPAIN

An official complaint has been lodged after 30,000 litres of wine was literally poured down the drain during a blockade at French border controls.

The protest has gone to the European Union after five trucks were stopped near Le Boulou in an incident which wine experts say is far from isolated.

About 100 French farmers confronted the lorries at the tollgates which they blocked with tractors.

According to the Spanish Federation of Freight Trans-portation, they insisted that the wine was dumped there and then onto the road where it was washed away in a river of foam. Two of the vats were completely emptied but the other three lorries managed to get away with some of their load still intact.

The action was part of the farmers’ protest against falling food prices and angry slogans were daubed on the side of the vehicles amidst angry scenes of confrontation.

The Spanish Federation of Freight Transportation (CETM) claimed in a statement that the two trucks from Transportes Félix had been “assaulted” on the A9 in Le Boulou.

“On their way along the road, they came across a group of farmers who had formed a blockade,” they said. “They were forced to get out of the lorries and had to empty their tanks using sprays.”

The organisation has accus-ed the police of doing nothing, saying “the French Gendarmerie witnessed what happened but ignored the crime and allowed the demonstrators to act with impunity.”

The CETM says it has reported the incident to the Spanish Ministry so that both Spain and the European Union can put in an official complaint about France breaking the Schengen Treaty and not allowing the free movement of goods.

The protesting farmers are mainly from the neighbouring district of Aude. They say their livelihoods are being threatened because Spanish wine is being imported at prices ranging between 30 and 40 euros per hectolitre, whereas French wines are between 70 and 80 euros.

A spokesman for the transport company said the drivers had returned safely to base and were not physically attacked.

However, one of the vats lost 25,500 litres of wine and another had 5,000 litres washed away.

Just two months ago, a group of farmers intercepted lorries coming into France from Murcia and destroyed about 20 tons of vegetables and citrus fruit.