Another week in Europe and more farm protests. This time it was Spanish farmers taking to the barricades by using tractors to block major roads. As with the Germans at the start of the month and the French and Belgians last week criticism was levelled at prices, input costs, particularly fuel, and the impact of environmental regulations imposed by Brussels on member states.

There is a sense now that this may be the start of a wider European protest movement by farmers saying enough is enough and that they have as much right to be heard as the green groups that have successfully lobbied the European Commission.

This does not mean protesting farmers are all singing off the same hymn sheet. The French have problems with the Spanish, blaming them for low prices for everything from wine to tomatoes. They frequently attack Spanish lorries and have even disputed the credentials of organic produce from Spain. They do however have common cause in their frustration with Brussels and the EU’s Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy in agriculture.

With protesters literally at the door when a debate on the future of agricultural support was beginning the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, promised action. The problem is that she can make promises, but will not be able to deliver on them.

Changing the CAP is akin to stopping and turning a huge supertanker and the present Commission is literally out of time to do anything on this scale. Its mandate runs until October, but after the European parliament elections in June, it will be in a caretaker role, while new commissioners, nominated by member states, are approved by the parliament.

Von der Leyen was however saying the right things in terms of her commitment to farmers. She followed up on her State of the Union speech last year by praising farmers for delivering quality food every day and for ensuring that food security has never been a threat to stability in Europe.

She assured farmers that agriculture would remain a priority and that it had an obligation and a practical need to protect the farm's livelihoods. These fine words were welcomed by the farming lobby, but the elephant in the room was avoided. There was no suggestion that there would be any easing of green regulations and it is these that are driving the protests.

Farmers are happy to help actively manage the countryside, but they believe Brussels has gone too far. They are fed up with being blamed for environmental problems, being criticised for what they produce, and now being told to cut livestock productivity to help achieve a net zero carbon target. Until this changes which is unlikely there can be no long term resolution to the anger amongst farmers and rural communities about the impact of green diktats from Brussels.

As it comes towards its end the Commission is firefighting to keep many flagship policies alive to be handed on to the new Commission. Its nature restoration legislation was the final straw for many farmers but it still maintains this is the right approach, along with its unrealistic plan to have a third of farm land organic by 2030.

It has won its battle to maintain a common approach over support for Ukraine. Despite objections from some member states it has agreed to a 40 billion aid package for Ukraine. It has also seen significant opposition from countries bordering Ukraine to maintain tariff free access to the EU for agricultural products. This is despite evidence that this is damaging domestic markets in the countries close to Ukraine, forcing the EU into costly aid packages to head off protests. This is yet another problem kicked into touch, rather than one that has been solved.

One unanswered question, as the European protests spread, is why farmers here are not doing the same. Part of the answer may be that Europe has a culture of direct action and protest, which has never been central to UK politics, particularly in agriculture. However, the real reason is more depressing.

Deep down, farmers know that no one holding the purse strings or controlling agricultural policy would listen. They are wise enough to avoid protests that would only face the embarrassment of failure. One of the casualties of leaving the EU, for farmers, will remain the loss of strength that came from being part of the always aggressive European farm lobby.