French cabinet suspends fuel tax hikes for 6 months

The move is in response to nationwide protests and street clashes

Photo: EPA Demonstrators wearing their yellow vests open the toll gates on motorway near Aix-en-Provence, 4 December.

The French government on Tuesday suspended planned increases in three taxes on fuel for a six-month period starting on 1 January in response to nationwide protests against high pump prices and living costs. PM Edouard Philippe announced the decision after detailing the plan in his regular Tuesday morning meeting with governing party lawmakers.

“This anger, you’d have to be deaf or blind not to see it or hear it,” Philippe said in an TV address. “The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay. That’s also what we want. If I didn’t manage to explain it, if the ruling majority didn’t manage to convince the French, then something must change.”

The suspension is aiming to calm two weeks of nationwide demonstrations which degenerated into street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend. Originally spurred by the soaring cost of fuel this year, they quickly ballooned into a wider revolt over President Emmanuel Macron, accused of pursuing policies which hit low-income households particularly hard.

Halting the fuel tax increase was one of the main demands listed by "yellow vest" leaders, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners abolished last year.




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