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French fishermen protest set to catch on across Europe

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French fishermen protest set to catch on across Europe


The French fishermens’ fuel strikes have continued and look set to spread around the European coastline. In France, a 110 million-euro government aid offer last week was not enough to end the blocking of ports and fuel depots by fishermen.

Yesterday a union in La Rochelle narrowly voted to continue the protest, hoping for the support of their European counterparts. Their colleagues in Spain have joined the strike action, with the Portuguese, Italian, Greek and Maltese set to wade in by the end of the week.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy this morning turned to tax changes as a solution. He told a French radio station: “I will ask our European partners: if the price of oil continues to rise, shouldn’t we suspend the VAT tax part of oil prices?”

But the European Commission disagrees, saying changing taxation to combat inflated prices sends the wrong message to oil-producing countries; namely that they could increase prices.

In any case, the Commission added, such a decision would need the agreement of all 27 EU members.

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