Paris Prepares for Fresh Protests Despite Macron's Fuel Tax Surrender

Share

Trade unions and farmers pledged Wednesday to join nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron, as concessions by the government failed to stem the momentum of the most violent demonstrations France has seen in decades.

Economists frequently note that fuel taxes or carbon taxes are more elegant solutions than fuel-economy mandates to promote better fuel efficiency and cleaner air.

In response to the riots, President Trump blasted the Paris Climate agreement, which he pulled the United States out of, for punishing taxpayers.

On Tuesday, the French prime minister Edouard Philippe made a decision to suspend planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests by the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement, marking the first major U-turn by Macron's administration in 18 months in office.

While welcome ecologically, any increase to fuel prices stood to severely impact those already struggling financially because of low wages, high taxes and high unemployment.

The government had announced a six-month suspension of the tax just yesterday, the first big policy reversal of Macron's 18-month-old government.

Philippe made it known that "the tax is now abandoned" in the 2019 budget.

To be sure, Macron's recent efforts to combat "climate change" and reduce France's dependence on "fossil fuels" by levying a new tax on gasoline and other household fuels is not the only reason the French are protesting, but fuel tax is the "straw that broke the camel's back".

"It's on the right path, but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement", she said.

Paris is still smoldering in the wake of violent protests last weekend.

The "yellow vest" revolt caught Mr Macron unawares when it erupted on November 17, and has left him scrambling to respond to and defuse the deepest crisis of his presidency.

President Emmanuel Macron could amend a wealth tax that critics say goes too easy on the rich, his government indicated on Wednesday, a day after suspending further fuel-tax hikes in the face of protests across France over living costs.

Yet many others said they had no intention of stopping the demonstrations.

The so-called "yellow vest" movement was mostly peaceful to begin with. A joint statement from the CGT and FO trucking unions called for action beginning Sunday night to protest a cut in overtime rates, and asked for an urgent meeting with the transportation minister.

Protesters wearing the fluorescent yellow vests continued to block several fuel depots.

Demonstrators were also blocking toll booths, letting drivers pass without paying, to press demands that ranged from income and pension rises to the dissolution of the National Assembly, France's parliament. At Tolbiac University, students took over a school building and classes were canceled.

"We need taxes, but they are not properly redistributed", protester Thomas Tricottet told BFM television. Many are protesting a new university application system.

He has refrained from speaking publicly about the protests and has largely remained in his palace.

The prime minister also spoke of the protesters.

The "Yellow Vest" protesters, so named because of the bright vests that French motorists must carry in their vehicles in case of a roadside emergency, have grown quickly from their initial beginnings on social media only weeks ago.

Share