EU to discuss fuel protests this week

European Union ministers are due to meet in Brussels Sept. 20 to discuss European fuel supplies, as protests of high fuel prices died down in Britain late last week but picked up steam in Germany and other parts of Europe. In Belgium, the Port of Antwerp was blockaded, and Brussels was brought to a virtual standstill.


BRUSSELS�European Union ministers are due to meet in Brussels Sept. 20 to discuss European fuel supplies, as protests of high fuel prices died down in Britain late last week but picked up steam in Germany and other parts of Europe. In Belgium, the Port of Antwerp was blockaded, and Brussels was brought to a virtual standstill.

In the United Kingdom, about 90% of the country's gas stations had run dry, despite the release of some tankers Friday for emergency services�only 5% of the usual deliveries. Hospitals have been put on alert and British Prime Minister Tony Blair put the army on standby.

At a meeting Sept. 13, Blair urged senior oil company executives to get the fuel supplies moving. However, fuel tanker-truck drivers, who are largely sympathetic to the protesters, are said to be wary of moving their volatile loads through the picket lines.

Oil refineries have been affected in the Netherlands and Germany, and the protest is now spreading to Poland and Ireland.

The crisis is not expected to be resolved until the Sept. 20 EU meeting. But ministers from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany have indicated that they will not succumb to protestors' calls to reduce high energy taxes.

The UK and Germany said they would not follow the example set by France, which yielded to demands to subsidize fuel prices (OGJ Online, Sept. 5, 2000).

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