Riot police in Brussels have clashed with hundreds of fishermen demonstrating outside European Union headquarters against high fuel costs.

Television footage showed protesters hurling flares, rocks and firecrackers at police, while others fired flare guns through windows at EU headquarters. Protesters lit small street fires and detonated smoke bombs as they retreated from onrushing police wielding shields and truncheons.

Fishermen, truck drivers and farmers across much of Europe began protesting last month, demanding government aid to help offset rising fuel prices, which they say are threatening their livelihoods.

EU leaders have placed the issue at the top of their agenda at a two-day summit set to begin June 19.

Monday, finance ministers from 15 European countries using the single European currency, the euro, gave a cool reception to French calls for a cut in fuel taxes to ease the crisis.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged capping sales taxes on fuel, as a way to workers hit hardest by the price hikes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.