Watch: France to suspend fuel tax hikes after 'gilets jaunes' protests

Watch: France to suspend fuel tax hikes after 'gilets jaunes' protests
By Chris HarrisEmma Beswick
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French PM Philippe has confirmed the government will suspend controversial fuel tax increases.


France will suspend controversial fuel tax increases that have sparked weeks of demonstrations by the 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) movement.

The u-turn, announced by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday afternoon, follows a weekend of violent protests in Paris that led to hundreds of arrests and almost 100 people injured.

Until now, French President Emmanuel Macron has been reluctant to suspend the price hikes, tweeting on Saturday that the protests were "nothing to do with the peaceful expression of legitimate anger".

READ: Will Macron stand down and listen to the ‘gilets jaunes’?

France has been hit by three weeks of protests from the 'gilet jaunes' movement, which was originally launched as a response to the fuel price increases, and has since turned into a wider protest over social inequalities.

"We must change something", said Philippe — you can watch the full statement in the video player, above — as he confirmed the government will suspend the increase of fuel taxes for six months.

READ: 'Gilets jaunes': who are they and what do they want?

"This anger, you'd have to be deaf or blind not to see it or hear it," he added.

"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."

How did France react?

Benjamin Cauchy, one of the key figures of the “gilet jaunes” movement, told AFP the move was a first step.

But, he added, the French don’t want crumbs “they want the whole baguette”.

Cauchy also called for a new redistribution of wealth in France and regular referendums on key societal issues.

Others from the movement were more critical.

Laetitia Dewall, a spokeswoman for the “gilet jaunes” from a region north of Paris, said the six-month moratorium “was peanuts”.

Bruno Retailleau, president of the Republicans in the French Senate, said: “The French asked for a cancellation [of the fuel tax hikes].”

“Better late than never,” said Ségolène Royal, a former environment minister.

“If it’s just limited to that [a suspension of the fuel tax hikes], then it’s too little, too late,” said Marine Le Pen, president of the far-right National Rally party.

More on this subject

Euronews' Brian Carter reports from Paris protests

'Gilets jaunes': who are they?

Misinformation on social media as 'gilets jaunes' protests continue

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